Wed, Oct 19, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Temple turns firecrackers into the image of Matsu

By Chen Tsan-kun and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

A religious procession generates several tonnes of waste from fireworks debris on each annual procession, but one temple is finding new ways to reuse the material.

Chaotian Temple in Yunlin County’s Beigang Township (北港) is the starting point of the annual Matsu procession, which begins at the Lunar New Year and runs through to the end of the third month of the lunar calendar.

At the start of the event, Beigang overflows with worshipers, many of whom go to burn incense and pay their respects.

Firecrackers are a common part of the proceedings, leading to tonnes of waste by the end of the event.

The temple said it collects the waste and uses it to make items such as likenesses of the goddess Matsu and her servants Thousand-Mile Eyes (千里眼) and Wind-Riding Ears (順風耳), as well as hongbao (red envelope).

One likeness of Matsu made from recycled waste at the temple is 0.5m tall and weighs 5kg, the temple said.

When viewed up close, the throned figure can be clearly seen to be made of the glued-together remains of firecrackers.

“In the process of constructing the idol, the strong smell of saltpeter permeated the air,” temple chairperson Tsai Yung-te (蔡??) said. “However, the gunpowder mixed in with the pulp protects the statue from insect damage.”

Three of the temple’s statues were made using a combined total of 300kg of reclaimed firecrackers, Tsai said.

In the masterful hands of Wei Chun-pang (魏俊邦), a manufacturer of figurines in Tainan for more than 50 years, creations like these give new life to fireworks.

Some waste paper gets sent to Sansia Township (三峽), where it is used to make hongbao, Tsai said.

In this way, paper used in prayer gets reused for another benevolent purpose, Tsai said.

“In respecting the use of incense and firecrackers in worship, we ask that people use these things in moderation,” Tsai said. “We feel that the large amount of paper left behind from the exploding palanquin and the fireworks should be reused to protect the environment, rather than sending it all to the landfill. We welcome the public to come forth with whatever creative ideas they have for giving new life to this waste paper.”

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