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Changhua, Taichung, Taiwan
I am a freelance photographer based in Taiwan, Asia. Photography is a passion as well as a job and Taiwan is a paradise for photographers. I am a product photgrapher, portrait photgrapher, wedding photgrapher, and commercial and editorial photographer. I also photograph a wide range of topics including travel and culture events here in Taiwan. As a sideline, I also teach scuba diving and run guided photography tours, photography courses and guided hikes in Taiwan.

Thursday 24 May 2012

The Lantern Festival in Taiwan, the full story

The famous Lantern Festival in Taiwan

        The Lantern Festival, also known as the Yuanxiao Festival is a festival celebrated on the fifteenth day of the first month in the lunisolar calendar, the last day of the Chinese New Year celebration. It is commonly regarded as one of the most important and romantic festivals in Taiwan. The festival is celebrated with lantern making and displays of lanterns along with big firework displays. The main event, hosted in a different town or city every year, was hosted in Lukang, a small town in Changhua county, Taiwan. Many other events were held all over Taiwan such as the Sky Lantern Festival in PingXi, It was estimated that over 5 million people from all over the country attended the festival in lukang which lasted a week. On the opening day, performers from Japan held a parade through the streets of Lukang along with a number of other festivities. The President Ma Ying Jeou camt to welcome the opening of the festival, light the huge dragon lantern and start the opening fireworks display.
The main Dragon Lantern

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Origins of the Lantern festival in Taiwan

              There are many comonly beleived origins to the Lantern festival across Asia. The most popular belief about the origins in Taiwan originates from the Han Dynasty and involves a maid named Yuan-Xiao. She was a devoted maid in the emperor's palace who had never had the chance to leave the palace and see her family since she started working there. Almost driven to suicide, she was about to jump into a well one day when Mr. Eastern, the emperor's advisor stopped her. After confiding in him that if she could not have the chance to show her filial piety in this life she would rather die, Mr. Eastern set out to reunite her with her family.
        He set up a fortune telling stall, giving the same prediction to many of a calamitous fire on the fifteenth lunar day. Worried about the future, the people asked for his help. He advised them to ask for mercy from a fairy dressed in red sent by the God of Fire to burn down the city on the thirteenth lunar day.
        On that day, Yuan-Xiao pretended to be the red fairy telling the people she had a copy of a decree from the God of Fire, which stated that the capital city would burn down on the fifteenth, that should be taken to the emperor.
        Following the adviser's advice, the emperor ordered Yuan-Xiao along with every household to make tangyuan (sweet dumplings) to worship the God of Fire. At the same time every house in the city should hang red lanterns and explode fire crackers on the fifteenth lunar day. Lastly, everyone in the palace and people outside the city should carry their lanterns on the street to watch the lantern decorations and fireworks. The Jade Emperor would be deceived and everyone would avoid the disastrous fire. Yuan-Xiao's parents went into the palace and were reunited with their daughter. Since Yuan-Xiao cooked the best tangyuan, people called the day Yuan-Xiao Festival.

Japanese parade walking on stilts through the crowd

Acrobats carried throughout the parade
Acrobats carried throughout the parade
Giant Dragon Lanterns hung over the crowds along the street

The Japanese parade added a Walt Disney theme to the parade
People hanging their wishes on a sacred tree outside a temple
Crowds gathered in anticipation for the performances

The Dragon Show
Traditional drumming

One of the many lanterns on display
One of the many lanterns on display
One of the many lanterns on display
People hanging their wishes for health and fortune outside a temple

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