The Yenshui Beehive Fireworks Festival, an annual two-day fireworks festival, opened in Tainan County yesterday morning and will culminate in a grand finale tomorrow night.
A palanquin carrying a statue of the legendary hero Kuanyu (關羽) and more than 100 martial arts troupes began a parade yesterday to ward off evil spirits.
The Yenshui Beehive Fireworks Festival finds its origins in folk custom in the late 19th century, a time when villagers suffering from serious cholera epidemics sought protection.
In religious services, they asked for help from Kuanyu, a heroic figure in Chinese history who was made a saint in folk belief. By setting off large volleys of firecrackers, they also tried to ward off evil spirits that they believed had brought the disease.
Firecrackers and the palanquin procession remain a highlight of the festivities today.
Tomorrow night, fireworks piled in the shape of huge teapots, chariots and golden ingots will also be fired for the Lantern Festival.
In recent years, the event has brought thousands of visitors from home and abroad to the small township and has become a means to promote tourism to the area.
Tainan County Commissioner Su Huan-chih (蘇煥智) has also invited guests from 17 countries to attend the festivities in Yenshui.
Su recommended that visitors go to exhibitions featuring sculptures, teapot designs, folk customs and performing arts by local artists in the neighborhood of the Kuanyu Temple.