Sunday, October 31, 2010

Taiwan - Celebrating the Gods

scary face beside God in Tainan City Taiwan

The Taiwanese worship a variety of Buddhist, Taoist, and other folk deities. Every weekend there are celebrations throughout the country to worship the gods, and while travelling, I stumbled into many parades and celebrations. Each temple has its own god, so there are literally thousands of different gods in Taiwan.

Statues of deities are loaded onto wooden palanquins and carried through a maelstrom of firecrackers, traffic, police, and cheering crowds. Decorated floats follow giant walking gods which have wildly contorted faces and glaring eyes to ward off evil spirits. Then, once the caravan nears the temple, firecrackers that have been laid out up and down the blocks surrounding it are set off and the celebrations begin, with many of the men who have carried the palanquins already drunk and their teeth red with bettle juice. The danger was in being anywhere around the celebrations when the firecrackers were lit, because they went off in sync by the thousands, leaving behind shredded bits of pink paper two inches deep.

religious parade Tainan City Taiwan