Hundred-year temple parade draws locals and foreigners alike to Taiwan's Daxi Old Street 

The celebration of the birthday of Lord Guan is considered by locals as important as the Lunar New Year

  828
The temple parade to celebrate the birthday of the Lord Guan in the Pu Ji Temple kicks off on August 4

The temple parade to celebrate the birthday of the Lord Guan in the Pu Ji Temple kicks off on August 4 (By Taiwan News)

TAOYUAN (Taiwan News) — The two-day celebration of the birthday of the Taoist deity Lord Guan (關聖帝君) in Daxi District, Taoyuan City, kicked off Saturday with around-the-town parades that drew locals and foreigners alike to the street to enjoy the spectacle and be part of it. 

The miaohui (literally a temple event) parade for the birthday of the Lord Guan of the Pu Ji Temple has lasted for over a century and is considered by the Daxi local people as important as the Lunar New Year celebration. 

▶︎ The traditional celebration of the Lord Guan of the Pu Ji Temple begins August 4 (Taiwan News)

Every June 24 in the lunar calendar and the day before it, the statue of the Lord Guan is carried out by the temple staff to tour around the town, with dozens of ‘Din Tao’ clubs formed by local people giving various performances in dramatic costumes and makeup. Traditional eastern music and fireworks will also join the procession to make the whole event noisy and therefore more festive. 

Shortly after the parade began at 1 p.m. on Saturday, however, a sudden shower poured down, dispersing the parade and driving people to rush under a roof. Yet local people said it was the god’s will to clean up the floor and cool down the temperature before the Lord Guan could depart from the Pu Ji Temple.

“The rain should stop in 30 minutes,” said a middle-aged man who not only provided a temporary shelter for strangers but also handed out drinks to them. A gesture of generosity towards miaohui event participants is common for traditional and pious people as a way to show their gratitude towards gods for their protection and blessing. 

The rain did stop magically around half an hour later, and the parade resumed. People once again gathered onto the streets, including a group of young foreign students who came to Taiwan because of a youth camp.

▶︎ Foreign students from seven countries, including the U.S., India, France, the Netherlands, join the locals of Daxi District in Taoyuan for the temple parade (Taiwan News)

Asked if they have any idea what people were celebrating about on the street, a 17-year-old student from France said he does not know what was going on but finds the event very special and enjoyable.

Jessica, an American student of 18, said she could recognize some of the deities walking past her, naming out the money god (the Caishen, the god of prosperity), the child god (the Nezha), the land god (the Tudigong, the Lord of the Soil and the Ground), as well as the drunk god (Ji Gong).

▶︎ The so-called drunk god, Ji Gong, is usually seen holding a fan and a bottle gourd containing liquor (Taiwan News)  

I’d be most fond of the land god because it feels like “you can ask him for a lot of things, protection or money,” said Jessica. “The land god seems like a pretty cool guy.”

Naomi, 19, found the parade very cool and colorful with great music. She and her friends took several pictures with the performers in various costumes and makeups resembling or symbolizing Taoist deities. 

Naomi was also impressed by the performers who stopped on the street to take photos with her, as it was something she does not usually experience back home. “In the Netherlands, if you have a parade like this, they always put the people who are watching behind the fence, so you can’t really go up and take pictures.” 

In addition to the traditional Taoist rituals and practices, there have been more and more diverse performances taking place during the parade over the past few years.

A group of Taiwan’s indigenous youngsters put on an energetic and powerful dance performance with heart-pounding drum beats at the beginning of the procession. Their performance was then followed by high school marching bands as well as a street dance club formed by local young people. 

▶︎ A Taiwanese indigenous group joins the celebration of the birthday of the Lord Guan of the Pu Ji Temple (Taiwan News)

▶︎ A Taiwanese indigenous group joins the celebration of the birthday of the Lord Guan of the Pu Ji Temple (Taiwan News)

Their participation showed that the temple parade was not just for the pious and more elderly. Instead, young people have joined the Taoist celebration in their creative ways and hence found themselves a stage to shine.  

The whole event will culminate in an even more festive celebration on Sunday, for those who want to join one of the biggest temple parades in Northern Taiwan, please refer to the event page

▶︎ Foreign students from seven countries, including the U.S., India, France, the Netherlands, join the locals of Daxi District in Taoyuan for the temple parade (Taiwan News)

▶︎ Kids watch the temple parade on the street (Taiwan News)

▶︎ A local ‘Din Tao’ club puts on a performance (Taiwan News)

▶︎ The traditional celebration of the Lord Guan of the Pu Ji Temple begins August 4 (Taiwan News)

▶︎ High school marching bands join the celebration of the birthday of the Lord Guan of the Pu Ji Temple (Taiwan News)

▶︎ The traditional celebration of the Lord Guan of the Pu Ji Temple begins August 4 (Taiwan News)

A short recap of the activity can be seen in the video below: