People scramble to snatch offerings for ghosts at a temple in northern Taiwan

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TAIPEI (Taiwan News)—About 200 to 300 people turned up at a temple in Taiwan’s Miaoli County on Sunday (Sep. 9) and snatched 1,900 offerings to ghosts and ancestors, which included dried foods and fruits, in 40 seconds after the get-go, leaving a trail of empty plates and overturned tables on the ground.  

Huang Tai-hung (黃泰弘), management committee chairperson of Wufu Temple (五福廟) in Tongluo Township, said that the temple holds a religious ceremony at the end of the seventh month (ghost month) in the lunar calendar every year. The temple invites Taoist priests to chant prayers at the ceremony in front of the offerings donated by believers, Huang said, adding that this year a total of 1,900 believers donated 1,900 offerings, which included wheat foodstuffs, fruits, bread, and cookies. All the offerings, which were put on more than 300 tables, were meant to be given to ghosts and ancestors as a way of worship and praying.

After the ceremony on Sunday night, part of the offerings was donated to charities, but most of them were up for grab for free. People believe the offerings from the ceremony will bring peace and luck. Therefore, about 200 to 300 people had come into the temple and positioned themselves around the tables before the ceremony was over, waiting to snatch all the offerings.     

Over and over again the temple reminded the anxious attendants that they had to wait for the priests to finish their prayer recitation and for the firecrackers to be fired before they could start with the action.

Upon hearing the first sound of firecrackers being fired, the attendants sprang into action and began to swiftly stuff the offerings into cartons or gunnies they had prepared in advance. Some people were so wounded up that they overturned the tables. Just in 40 seconds all the offerings on the tables were swept away.      

Every attendant left with a full load of stuff and satisfaction, leaving a trail of empty plates and overturned tables on the ground and staff members shaking their heads in dismay.

(photo by CNA)