Members of the Hakka community across the country — and overseas — celebrated National Hakka Day yesterday, though some continued to protest the choice of “Sky Mending Day” as being unrepresentative of their community and culture.
Hakka Affairs Council Vice Minister Chung Wan-mei (鍾萬梅) led a group of council officials and Hakka leaders as they paid their respects to the Goddess Nuwa (女媧) in Zhongshan Hall square in Taipei. They offered sweet ball-shaped rice cakes as a gesture of appreciation for the goddesses’ efforts to mend the sky and asked for blessings throughout the year.
Similar rituals and celebrations took place all around the country.
“According to an ancient myth, there was once a battle between the God of Fire and the God of Water that was so ferocious it tore a hole in the sky. As a result, the Earth was inundated with water, causing floods everywhere, and people suffered,” Chung said, recounting the origin of Sky Mending Day to the media.
“Nuwa did not want people to suffer, so she made colorful rocks and mended the hole in the sky to save people from drowning — this is the origin of Sky Mending Day, which falls on the 20th day of the first lunar month,” Chung said.
Chung said that although the myth is not unique to Hakka people, it is the Hakka community that celebrates that day, which is why two years ago the council chose Sky Mending Day as National Hakka Day.
“I remember when I was a child, my mother would get up early to make ball-shaped rice cakes, which symbolize the rocks used to mend the hole in the sky,” he said. “This holiday is still celebrated by the Hakka community in Taiwan and overseas.”
However, some Hakka people in the south said that they had never celebrated Sky Mending Day and felt that its choice as National Hakka Day failed to take into consideration the opinions of the community as a whole.
“I had never heard of Sky Mending Day until the Hakka Affairs Council chose it as National Hakka Day,” said a 30-year-old surnamed Liu (劉) from the predominantly Hakka town of Meinong (美濃) in Greater Kaohsiung. “When the council announced it, I asked my grandpa, and he said he had never heard of it either.”
Liu Huang Hsi-mei (劉黃喜妹), a 90-year-old woman from Meinong, also said she had never heard of Sky Mending Day, but thought the selection of the holiday as National Hakka Day was still a positive move because it would help to promote and preserve Hakka culture and language.
“We are aware that Sky Mending Day is not celebrated in all Hakka regions, but we can always create new traditions,” Chung said. “Especially as we can now give the traditional holiday a more modern interpretation — we all need to help mend the hole in the ozone layer, this is our modern-day sky-mending.”