Starting today, Greater Tainan is playing host to a month-long festivity — the Baihe Cultural Festival (白河文化季) — showcasing the culture of six communities in the Baihe region.
At a launch ceremony last week, Greater Tainan Mayor William Lai (賴清德) said the festival would feature many new or revamped programs integrating traditional festivities and the local culture of the six communities.
Among the headline events is the Night Ritual Ceremony of the Pingpu Aborigines (平埔夜祭) from Liouchongsi Community (六重溪), which takes place on the night of the full moon in the ninth month of the lunar calendar, which falls on Oct. 18 this year.
The other programs are a traditional martial arts parade by the Hushan Community (虎山), a bamboo handicraft festival at the Dajhu Community (大竹), a lion dance competition by the Jhumen Community (竹門), an old traditional housing tour of Ganjhai Community (甘宅) and a green-faced lion mask exhibition by the Jhaoan Community (詔安).
“People coming to the Baihe Cultural Festival can get to know the traditional culture of rural Taiwan, as well as the fun and educational activities of the local festivities. A ritual celebration by Greater Tainan’s Pingpu Aborigines will also be showcased,” Lai said.
“The festival is a good way for people to experience the leisurely pace and traditional agricultural lifestyle of rural villages. Visitors can enjoy and discover more about the history and culture in this part of Taiwan,” Lai said.
He said that Hong Kong visitors especially love touring the towns and villages of Greater Tainan, “because Hong Kong has lots of residents crowded into a small area and they have a fast-paced daily life that is often stressful.”
“They come to enjoy the slower pace of life in Tainan, relish the great outdoors ... and experience a few days of life at a village farm,” he added.
At the launch ceremony in Guanzhiling (關子嶺), Pingpu elders lit torches from the area’s hot springs, where natural gas produces fire from the ground, and passed them on to officials and special guests.
The torches were then transferred to local residents and young people who relayed the torches along a restored ancient walkway to the six participating Baihe communities to symbolize the transmission of traditional culture from the older to the younger generation.
The festival is scheduled to run until Oct. 19. It is co-organized by the Greater Tainan Government, the Council of Agriculture, the Tourism Bureau, the Siraya National Scenic Area Administration and local district offices.