Local Festivals Around the Year
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Birthday of Sin Si Wah Kong

  • The 28th day of 9th month of the Lunar Calendar

    People worship different opera patriarchs in different places in China and Wah Kong is the one worshipped for Cantonese opera in Hong Kong. Prior to each performance, the performing crew set up an altar at backstage to honor this patriarch, hoping for a smooth run both onstage and backstage. The importance of Wah Kong to them was also reflected by the annual celebration of Wah Kong’s birthday.

  • The Legend of Wah Kong

    According to the legend, Wah Kong was the God of Fire who had three eyes under the Jade Emperor (Supreme Deity). There was once when people in the mortal world performed Chinese opera; the loud music of gongs and drums startled the Palace of Heaven. The angry Lord of Heaven ordered Wah Kong to descend to the mortal world and burn the stage. Upon arrival, Wah Kong found the tune and music so appealing that the deity was not callous enough to do it. To convince the Lord of Heaven that the stage had been destroyed, Wah Kong told the performing crew to burn incenses and joss paper so that the Lord of Heaven would misunderstand that the stage was burnt. Hence the performers escaped a destroying fire and Wah Kong had become the patriarch of the industry since then and was addressed respectfully as ‘Sin Si’ or ‘Sifu’ (literally: patriarch).

  • Birthday Celebration Ceremony

    The 28th day of the 9th lunar month of Chinese calendar was the birthday of Patriarch Wah Kong. At eleven o’clock the night before, the Chinese Artists Association of Hong Kong organized by Cantonese opera performers in Hong Kong carried out a celebration ceremony at its Yau Ma Tei branch. A number of performers performed three auspicious plays in front of the statue of Patriarch Wah Kong, namely Eight Divinities’ Celebration o f Birthday, The Ka Kwun Dance and The Fairy’s Baby. After which the Chairman of the Association and the people would offer incense and burn the joss paper.

  • After the ceremony, members of the Association, carrying with them the statue of Wah Kong and memorial tablets of deities and saints (Patriarch Wah Kong, Tin Hau Yuen Kwan, Saint Tam Kung, the two patriarchs Tin, Tau and Patriarch Cheung Hin), took a ride to where they were going to perform in that year and settled the deities there and allowed Patriarch Wah Kong to enjoy their performance on birthday. Both performers and participants visited the alter set up earlier to worship Wah Kong as usual and prayed for good luck and happiness before the show began.

  • The Birthday Celebration at Fragrant-Flower Hill

    On the birthday of Wah Kong every year, the Chinese Artists Association of Hong Kong performed only two plays, namely The Birthday Celebration at Fragrant-Flower Hill and The Fairy’s Baby. The former was not always performed as it involved a good number of performers, including civil and martial roles, young male roles, female roles, clowns and other martial roles. But at the same time it provided a good chance to show the solidaritiy of the performers. There were totally around sixty to seventy characters including the Eight Divinities, the Eight Fairies, the Four Dragon Kings, the Three Goddess Saints, Kwun Yam, the Monkey King, the Big-head Buddha, Arhat Hong Lung, Arhat Fuk Fu, Protector Skanda, etc. This grand performance was meant to show their respect to Patriarch Wah Kong, the practice of which familiarized the performing crew with the play so that both the play and the spirit ccould be passed on to the following generations.

  • The story of The Birthday Celebration at Fragrant-Flower Hill was derived from a legendary Kwun Yam play of the Qing Dynasty, The Fragrant-Flower Hill. It was a typical play performed on celebrating occasions. The entire play lasted for five hours, with the first half telling the story of Kwun Yam since birth to the day when the Truth was understood得道. The second half was about all the deities and fairies celebrating Kwun Yam’s birthday. On Wah Kong’s birthday celebration, the Association performed the second half only and it took nearly two hours. The climax of the show was the scene Kwun Yam’ s Eighteen Transformations: after greeted by all deities and fairies, Kwun Yam performed magic as requested and transformed into a dragon, a tiger, a general, a minister, a fisherman, a woodman, a farmer and a scholar, showing various martial art steps and Cantonese opera sceneries.

  • Lau Hoi Distributing Money

    Then appeared the ''Money Divine' Lau Hoi, who distributed copper coins to the audience. Onstage performers, staff at the stage entrance and audiences offstage all fought for the coins for good luck. The atmosphere reached a climax and the people on and off the stage mingled and celebrated together. A huge peach was then pushed to the front stage and a “heart of the peach” walked out and continued disseminating copper coins taken from the “Bag of Offspring”, which was no less welcome by the people.

  • The Fairy’s Baby

    The birthday celebration play was followed by the auspicious play The Fairy’s Baby. When this play was performed in the live Chinese operas and dramas performance for ghosts, Tung Wing was taken by young male role and the Seventh Fairy Maiden by the minor female role, but in Wah Kong’s birthday celebration, these two roles were respectively played by civil and martial role and chief female role, offering a fresh impression to the audience.