Hundreds of local and foreign visitors crowded the Taipei Confucius Temple early yesterday morning to watch the traditional bayi (八佾) dance and eat wisdom cakes in celebration of Confucius’ (孔子) 2,560th birthday.
The dance, a ritual performed to pay respect to emperors, was performed by 64 students and was only the second such performance in Taiwan in 12 years.
The temple sparked controversy when it performed the ritual two years ago to welcome President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) attendance at the ceremony, attracting criticism from opposition parties that the temple was “worshiping Emperor Ma” with the dance.
PHOTO: CHANG CHIA-MING, TAIPEI TIMES
Ma attended the ceremony again yesterday to pay his respects to the philosopher by burning incense and watching the bayi dance. The temple also opened the Lingxing Gate, the main entrance of the temple that is usually closed during the ceremony, and arranged for the president to enter the temple via the route traditionally taken by emperors.
Shih Su-li (施淑梨), the temple’s secretary, declined to confirm whether the temple performed the dance and opened the main entrance specifically for the president and insisted that all rituals and arrangements followed ancient traditions.
The temple usually performs the liuyi (六佾), a ritual performed to pay respects to feudal barons, to celebrate Confucius’ birthday.
Addressing the ceremony after the two-hour ritual, Ma cited the Analects to emphasize the importance of politicians taking a righteous path and said he chose to attend the ceremony to promote Confucianism.
“I have attended this ceremony twice because I think Confucianism and the rituals should be part of our lives ... Confucius taught us that a politician must take the righteous path, and if you take that path, your subordinates would not dare to take an evil path,” he said.
Ma is the first president to participate in the ceremony at the temple. Former president Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) visited the temple one day before the ceremony in 1968, Shih said.
The ceremony was presided over by Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌).
The temple is one of the few Confucius temples that still performs ancient rites that strictly follow the ancient rules with 37 steps in the ceremony sequence.
After the performance of the ritual, some visitors rushed to the center plaza of the temple to “pull” writing brushes from an artificial cow’s back as part of the “pulling of wisdom hair” ritual, creating a chaotic scene when some ran into each other and fell down.
Shih said the temple had 2,000 brushes at the ceremony, and it did not expect to have so many people participate in the activity.
It took director Chong Keat Aun (張吉安) nearly a decade to complete Snow in Midsummer (五月雪), a deft chronicle of Malaysia’s May 13 incident told through one woman’s search for her brother and father. Although only his second feature, it led the field at yesterday’s Golden Horse Awards with nine nominations. Chong said it had been a struggle to get people to share their memories of the intercommunal violence following the 1969 national election, known among the country’s ethnic Chinese community as “513.” “My father, for example, would shut the conversation down if my mother or grandma even mentioned the topic,” Chong said
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) yesterday said that a surge in respiratory illnesses in China has been caused by at least seven types of pathogens, and small children, elderly people and immunocompromised people should temporarily avoid unnecessary visits to China. The recent outbreak of respiratory illnesses in China is mainly in the north and among children, CDC Deputy Director-General Philip Lo (羅一鈞) said on Monday. Data released by the Chinese National Health Commission on Sunday showed that among children aged one to four, the main pathogens were influenza viruses and rhinoviruses, while among children aged five to 14, the main pathogens
A new poll of Taiwanese voters found the top opposition candidate for president jumping past the ruling party’s hopeful into the lead position ahead of January’s election — the latest twist in a drama-filled race. Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) presidential candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) had an approval rating of 31.9 percent versus 29.2 percent for the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) presidential candidate Vice President William Lai (賴清德), the poll released yesterday by the Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation showed. The Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) presidential candidate, New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜), ranked third with 23.6 percent, according to the survey conducted
A New Taipei City hotpot restaurant could be fined after a rat dropped from the ceiling and landed on a customer’s plate last week, the New Taipei City Department of Health said yesterday after conducting an inspection. A woman recently posted on the “I am a Banciao resident” (我是板橋人) social media group saying that she had been eating with a friend at Chien Tu Shabu Shabu Hotpot Restaurant’s Shuangshi B branch in Banciao District (板橋). “While still eating, a big rat suddenly dropped down from the ceiling, landing on a plate next to a hotpot,” she said. “Later on, a member of