Saturday, March 6, 2010

Fireworks festival in Tainan County unveiled with deafening fanfare

By Yang Szu-jui and Lillian Lin, Tainan, Feb. 27 (CNA)
Details: An annual two-day fireworks festival -- the Yenshui Beehive Fireworks Festival -- opened in the town of the same name in southern Taiwan's Tainan County Saturday morning and will culminate in a finale on Sunday night.

On Saturday, a palanquin carrying a statue of the legendary hero Kuanyu (dating back to the early 3rd century) and over 100 martial arts troupes began a parade to ward off evil spirits.

The Yenshui Beehive Fireworks Festival originated from the folk custom in the region of the late 19th Century when villagers suffering from serious cholera epidemics sought protection.

They held religious services, asking help from Kuanyu, a heroic figure in Chinese history who was made a saint in folk belief. They also tried to scare away evil spirits which they believe had brought them the disease by setting off masses of firecrackers.

While explosions of firecrackers still highlight the festivities nowadays, as well as the light and sound of fireworks shooting off everywhere as the palanquin travels through the streets, the highlight of the festival falls on the night of the Lantern Festival, Sunday this year, when piles of fireworks in the shapes of huge teapots, chariots, and golden ingots are lit.

In recent years, the annual event attracted thousands of visitors from home and abroad to the small township and has become a tourism promotion feature.

Tainan Magistrate Su Huan-jhih invited foreign guests from 17 countries to attend the festivities at Yenshui this year.

He recommended that visitors see the exhibitions featuring sculpture, teapot designs and performing arts by local artists being held in the neighborhood of the Kuangyu Temple while appreciating the fun of folk customs.



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