Local Festivals Around the Year
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Tai Wong Yeh Festival

  • The 8th Day of the 5th month of the Lunar Calendar

    A number of Tai Wong Yeh Temples can be found in different parts of Hong Kong, but each Tai Wong Yeh has different background and different dates of birth. Among them, the festival at Tai Po was the most exciting one, which lased for 10 days, including activities of god reception, parade, dancing events, martial arts performances, live Chinese operas and dramas performance for ghosts, votive flower cannon (paper floral tribute) event, and flower cannon drawing. Most participants were Hoklo (from Hailufeng district) fishermen and their descendants, therefore, the whole celebration was of a Hoklo style.

  • The Identity of Tai Wong Yeh

    One Tai Wong Yeh Temple is located in Yuen Chau Tsai Island. The date of its construction is uncertain, nor is Tai Wong Yeh’s identity. Some say he is the god of plague, having once saved people from a fatal epidemic; other views regard him as the patron saint of fishermen, who ensures the harvest and harmony of the community. In fact, Tai Wong Yeh comprises three figures, who were said to be brothers, hence some people think they might be “Kings of Three Mountains” in the Chaoshan area. They used to have different birthdays, but for the convenience of worship, people celebrate Tai Wong Yeh’s Birthday on the 8th day of the 5th Lunar Month.

  • Celebration Organizers

    There were originally 5 clans (Shek, Chung, Sue, Tsui, Lee) of Hoklo fishermen on Yuen Chau Tsai Island, who raised funds for the reconstruction of Tai Wong Yeh Temple and celebrate Tai Wong Yeh’s Birthday every year. The Birthday Festival was held by them annually. When the Tai Po downtown was under development in the late1970s, the government evened out Yuen Chau Tsai Island for new roads and buildings. Away from their homeland, the villagers found no place to hold the activities. The festival was later moved to the Feng Shui Square opposite the Tin Hau Temple near old Tai Po Market.

    On the 6th of the 5th lunar month, the villagers returned to Tai Wong Yeh Temple on Yuen Chau Tsai Island to invite the gods, escorting them to Feng Shui Square by car and placed them in a shrine for worship. A stage was also built at the location where live Chinese operas and dramas were performed for entertaining the ghosts and community for free for 10 days – Cantonese Opera in the first 5 days, Hailufeng Opera for the rest.

  • Hoklo Culture

    All five organizing families were Hoklo clans. They organized several Flower Cannon Associations, and the votive Flower Cannon event is on 8th of the 5th Lunar Month (for few times held a day before or after). Setting off from a village nearby, they pushed the huge Flower Cannons with large amount of sacrifices (including live pigs, roast pigs, fruits, gingers, red eggs and steamed buns of safety) in an array all the way to Feng Shui Square for Tai Wong Yeh’s Birthday celebration. Some women showed their respect to gods by dressing themselves in traditional Hoklo costumes; wearing their hair in a bun with gold and silver ornaments or wide brim flora hats.

  • Women from some Flower Cannon Associations performed Dragon Boat Dance in groups. A leading woman stroke a gong in the front and the others divided in 2 rows, with paddles in hands, dancing in uniformed gestures and steps. Some groups cover the performers with decorations of dragon head and body, as if “rowing on land”; some made a special alteration to change the paddles into feather fans in hands. They performed so lively and happily that infect the whole audience.

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  • Sacrifice and Moon Blocks Practice

    Flower Cannon Associations presented their sacrifices in front of the gods. After worship, the key member kneeled down for moon blocks practice to inquire whether the gods are content. A Shengjiao (divine answer) indicated a smooth and harvestable new year; yet a Xiaojiao or Nujiao (laughing answer or crying answer) means the gods have not yet been satisfied, which may due to lack of sacrifices or absences of participants. In this case, the leader would practice moon blocks again after explaining and apologizing to the gods. The crowd could only leave in content after a Shengjiao (divine answer) is shown.

  • Martial Arts Groups Gathering

    Some martial arts groups were appointed to worship Tai Wong Yeh on Sunday during the Festival. Starting from Tai Yuen Estate, they performed lion dance and dragon dance all the way, some even played Hoklo-special golden lion, kylin and other auspicious animals like elephant and Hakka box lion. Upon arriving at the gods’ shrine, they provided grand performances for the gods and the public, which brought the festival to another climax.