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Bun

Festival

By
Tamarapu sampath kumaran
About the author:
Mr T Sampath Kumaran is a freelance writer. He regularly contributes articles on
Management, Business, Ancient Temples and Temple Architecture to many
leading Dailies and Magazines. His articles for the young is very popular in “The
Young World section” of THE HINDU.
He was associated in the production of two Documentary films on Nava Tirupathi
Temples, and Tirukkurungudi Temple in Tamilnadu. His books on Festivals and
Customs of people around the world, and places of Tourist interest, have been well
received by the younger circles.

Acknowledgement: Google for the pictures and many authors for the information,
Cheung Chauu is a small island next to Lantau in Hong Kong

.Cheung Chau Bun Festival or Cheung Chau Da Jiu Festival


is a traditional Chinese festival on the island of Cheung Chau in Hong Kong. Held
annually, and with public exposure it is by far the most famous of such Da Jiu
festival, with jiu being a Taoist sacrificial ceremony. Such events are held by
mostly rural communities in Hong Kong, either annually or at a set interval of
years ranging all the way up to once every 60 years (i.e. the same year in the
Chinese astrological calendar). Other places that may share the folk custom include
Taiwan, Sichuan, Fijian and Guangdong.

The Bun Festival gets its name from the huge towers of buns erected outside the
Pak Tai Temple where the main celebrations are held. Highlights include the Bun
Scrambling Competition and a Parade.

The Cheung Chau Bun Festival falls on the fifth to the ninth days of the fourth
lunar month. Every year, the people of Cheung Chau get busy making papier-
mache effigies of deities, preparing costumes, baking buns and building a
bamboo tower. Thousands of people descend upon their tiny island, deemed one
of the world's 'Top 10 Quirky Local Festivals'.
The Cheung Chau Bun Festival which began as a fun and exciting ritual for fishing
communities to pray, become a showcase of traditional Chinses culture. For the
locals, this is the continuation of their customs.
The islanders have a strong sense of community and those who have left to
work elsewhere will return for this celebration. For the thousands who crowd
the ferry boats to the erstwhile pirate haven, this is the spectacular Cheung Chau
Bun Festival. The weeklong event includes Taoist ceremonies and music, a
parade, lion dances, drum beating and an exciting Bun Scrambling Competition.
For the Bun Scrambling Competition three enormous
towers studded with sweet white buns are erected. Villagers believe the buns could
bring them good fortune and health, so they delegate a family member to snatch as
many buns as possible.

Bun scramblers usually race to the top first to collect the buns which have the
highest score value.

The Piu Sik (Floating Colours) Parade - This dramatic reenactment of the
ceremonial parade held to drive away a plague a century ago sees young
children, dressed in the guises of traditional deities and modern celebrities,
balance on poles and accompanied by gongs and lion dancers, appearing to float
above the crowds in a carnival-like procession.
It all started with a plague that devastated Cheung Chau in the late Qing dynasty
(1644–1911). One story of the origin of the festival is that in the 18th century the
island of Cheung Chau was devastated by a plague and infiltrated by pirates until
local fishermen brought an image of the god Pak Tai to the island. Paraded through
the village lanes, the deity drove away evil spirits. Villagers also disguised
themselves as different deities and walked around the island to drive away the evil
spirits. The plague ended after the performance of these Taoist rituals and even
100 years later the rituals are still performed in a festival that is listed as an
intangible part of China’s cultural heritage.

Every year the islanders organise a weeklong thanksgiving, the Cheung Chau Bun
Festival usually in April or May. The festival lasts for seven days. On three of
these days the entire island goes vegetarian, most of the island's famous seafood
restaurants adhere to this tradition.

In addition to traditional lion dances and dragon dances, children dressed as


legendary and modern heroes are suspended above the crowd on the tips of swords
and paper fans. They form the parade-in-the-air and are all secured within steel
frames, though they appear to glide through the air. Parents consider it a great
honour for their offspring to be part of the parade.
This fascinating procession is accompanied by the bedlam of musicians loudly
beating gongs and drums to scare away evil spirits. It is led by a spectacular image
of Pak Tai, the God of Water and Spirit of the North, to whom the island's Temple
of the Jade Vavuity is dedicated.

Here are some divinities Cheng Chau people celebrate in the festival:

Pak Tai - Since Cheung Chau is traditionally an island of fisherfolk, Pak Tai is its
most revered divinity, since it is believed he has the power to confer smooth sailing
for the fishing boats as well as providing good catches for their crews. Pious
believers recognise him as "Pei Fang Chen Wu Hsuan T'ien Shang Ti" (True
Soldier and Superior Divinity of the Deep Heaven of the North).

Tin Hau (Lin Mo Niang) - The second of the significant deities involved in the
pageant is the much-revered Tin Hau, Goddess of the Seas and protector of all
fishermen and boat people. Celebrated for providing warnings of imminent storms
and saving countless lives from wreckage, she is in many ways Pak Tai's
competitor for the fondness of the fisherfolk.

Kuan Yin and Hung Hsing - Two more gods complete the celestial divinities
taking part in the parade: Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy with her tranquil and
ever compassionate smile; and Hung Hsing, the terrifying God of the South with
his menacing head-dress, unkind face, bushy black beard, and stave at the ready to
chastise all enemies.
Signs featuring the Chinese character "Peace" is stamped on buns for sale.
Shopkeepers also sell the buns with the sign featuring the Chinese character
"Peace" on the outlying Cheung Chau island.

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