Sun, Feb 12, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Lantern Festival sparks events

BOMBING THE DRAGON:In Miaoli County, men dressed as dragons have firecrackers thrown at them during a parade to bring the thrower prosperity

By Lin Hsin-han, Sean Lin and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer and CNA

The main lantern of this year’s Taiwan Lantern Festival, a 23m-tall giant phoenix lantern designed by a renowned local artist, is lit up in Yunlin County’s Huwei Township yesterday. The festival runs until Sunday next week.

Photo: CNA

The nation celebrated the annual Lantern Festival yesterday with various festivities of a uniquely local flavor.

The Lantern Festival, also known as Yuan Xiao (元宵), is traditionally held on the 15th day of the first lunar month. It is one of Taiwan’s three main festivals, along with the Dragon Boat Festival and Mid-Autumn Festival.

Aside from the Taiwan Lantern Festival, which this year took place in Yunlin County’s Huwei Township (虎尾), performances, handicrafts and lanterns are on display in Taoyuan, Kaohsiung and Hualien.

In Miaoli County, the festival was celebrated with the “bombing of the dragon” tradition, a practice that sees people throwing firecrackers at men dressed as dragons during a parade at night.

Revelers throw firecrackers at the feet of dancing dragons in the belief that the more firecrackers thrown, the greater the prosperity that will come to those throwing them.

The idea comes from the multiple meanings of the Chinese word “wang” (旺), which can mean both the flourishing of a fire and also prosperity.

A Hakka saying is: “The more you bomb [the dragons] the greater the prosperity” (越炸越旺).

In New Taipei City, more than 100 sky lanterns were released in Pingsi District (平溪), including 20 portraying images from popular tourist spots in Japan and Taiwan.

The lanterns were adorned with paintings of New Taipei City’s Yehliu Geopark, the tourist town of Jiufen (九份) and Tokyo’s iconic Sky Tree and Senso-ji.

In Tainan, the traditional Yanshui Beehive Fireworks (鹽水蜂炮) festival was held with three 13m-tall LED-lit fireworks installations. Participants wore layers of protective clothing, as fireworks were shot from beehive-like boxes to “drive away evil spirits.”

The air in Taitung County’s Chihshang Township (池上) was permeated with the smell of saltpeter as locals held their traditional Bombing of Master Handan (炸寒單) ceremony — throwing firecrackers at men representing the mythical figure Handan and his troupe as it moved through the township on a “tour of inspection.”

New Taipei City’s Yehliu (野柳) held its annual harbor purification festival, in which revelers braved the cold to patrol and purify the harbor and carry idols of local gods over hot coals.

Taipei Lantern Festival festivities reached new heights yesterday as revelers took part in a carnival in the Ximending (西門町) area featuring colorful floats and performance groups.

The parade was led by a fleet of custom-made motorcycles on Zhonghua Road, followed by a line of performance groups and floats, which spanned 700m.

An 8m-tall float portraying an anime version of the sea goddess Matsu, created by cartoonist Wei Tsung-cheng (韋宗成), was among the carnival’s highlights.

“West Side Story,” a float featuring a bird-like creature carrying a miniature of Taipei’s historic North Gate, at 17m was the longest float among the 41 floats displayed.

Its name was a reference to the carnival’s location and theme.

“It is freezing tonight, but a flame of passion has been ignited in the old town in the west end,” Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) said.

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