TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – From Thursday to Saturday (December 7-9), one of the three biggest miaohui (廟會) or temple festivals in Taipei takes place in the city's Wanhua District where the procession led by the King of Qingshan (青山靈安尊王) will deter the evil and bring peace and stability to the locals.
The annual miaohui of the Bangka Qingshan Temple (艋舺青山宮) has a history of more than a century. Built in 1859, the temple has knitted a close bond with local pious people ever since.
The three-day miaohui begins with the “night visits” in the first two days, during which the gods are said to inspect the underworld and capture the evil.
The procession sets out at 3 p.m. from the temple and tours around the south or north of Wanhua District each day. Since the procession makes temporary stops at dozens of temples and shrines along the way, the night visits usually end at midnight.
On the third day of the miaohui, the procession will tour the entire district on a single day. Gods from other temples and several performing groups, such as singers and pole dancers on Taiwanese stage trucks, will join the procession, thus bringing the whole miaohui to an exciting climax.
In addition, local people and businesses will give away food and drinks to participants so as to show their gratitude for the blessings by the King of Qingshan in the past year.
Recognizing the cultural values which go beyond the religious significance, the Ministry of Culture designated the miaohui of the Bangka Qingshan Temple as the country's cultural asset in 2010.
People are welcomed to join the miaohui at any time. For those who want to experience the lively and awe-inspiring traditions that have bound the locals together for generations, the management of the temple prepares real-time updates of the location of the procession on Google Map.
In addition, for those who are unable to take part in the miaohui, the temple also provides live streaming via its Facebook page.
According to historians, the statue of the King of Qingshan was brought to Taiwan by Chinese migrants in 1854 from Quanzhou (泉州), China.
The influence of the King of Qingshan quickly spread beyond the community originating from Quanzhou due to a public belief that the King of Qingshan was associated with the control of the plague that had swept the city, even though the plague was likely subdued as a result of better sanitation implemented by the Japanese imperial government, such as public bathhouses and public toilets.
All photos were taken by Teng Pei-ju from Taiwan News.