The Taipei City Government has proposed three ways to improve the annual Tshing Shan Festival, which received many noise pollution complaints over the weekend, Taipei Deputy Mayor Tsai Ping-kun (蔡炳坤) said yesterday.
The festival, held by the Qingshan Temple (青山宮) in Wanhua District (萬華), is one of the three biggest temple festivals in Taipei and ran from Friday through Sunday.
The city government received 509 complaints during the event, mainly over noise from firecrackers and fireworks late at night and into the morning.
A fire also broke out on the roof of a five-story building as a festival parade passed through Huanghe N Road Sec 2 at about 7am on Monday.
The fire was put out in about 30 minutes and nobody was injured, but as the parade had just passed, setting off firecrackers, people asked whether the firecrackers could have sparked the fire.
The Taipei Fire Department has opened an investigation.
Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) had on Monday said that Tsai would hold a review meeting to discuss the festival.
Reporters yesterday asked Tsai about the issue on the sidelines of an award ceremony at Taipei City Hall.
Tsai said the city has come up with three directions for the festival, including setting up a higher-level emergency response center at the city government to supervise and integrate resources during the event.
The other two are asking the organizers to significantly reduce the noise and the number of firecrackers set off during the festival; and to provide clear plans for the parade route and a schedule.
The city government should immediately deal with any chaotic or illegal behavior on-site, he said.
Tsai said the city government does not want to intervene in religious activities, but as the festival has disturbed residents, it would hold review meetings to draft regulations, such as setting a time frame for setting off firecrackers or prohibiting aerial fireworks.
Meanwhile, temple chairman Huang Ching-yuan (黃清源) on Monday issued a statement on behalf of the temple management committee, apologizing for the inconvenience caused to the public, and announcing the temple’s own three directions for improvement.
These are banning dangerous fireworks, reducing the amount of firecrackers and replacing them with food offerings, and strictly limiting the period in which fireworks and firecrackers can be set off.
The statement thanked Qingshanwang (青山王), the patron deity of the temple, for reducing illness among people, and thanked participants for protecting and passing down the traditional culture of Bangka (艋舺, also known as Manka or Monga), an old borough within today’s Wanhua District.
At an impromptu review meeting called by the temple management committee yesterday afternoon, committee executive director Kuo Yi-chien (郭懿堅) said that this year marks the 165th anniversary of the festival, so the scale was bigger than before.
There had been only about 18 “red altars” (紅壇, a temporary shrine set up by a worship group) at previous festivals, but the number increased to 32 this year, while about 8,500 people from worship groups attended the event, he said.
The increased number of red altars and participants delayed the schedule this year, he added.
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