Taiwan’s foreign students thrilled at ‘bombing of Master Handan’ event to mark Lantern Fest

The tradition involves tossing firecrackers at half-naked men

'Bombing Master Handan' event in Taitung

'Bombing Master Handan' event in Taitung (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – A group of 200 students from 25 countries on exchange programs in Taiwan was offered a rare opportunity to have a taste of local Lantern Festival culture in an event hosted by a temple in Taiwan’s Taitung County Feb. 19.

One of the highlights for the festival was “bombing Master Handan” (炸寒單), featuring half-naked men standing on a palanquin as firecrackers are tossed at them. The practice is believed to bring prosperity and fortune in the coming year.

The youths who participated in the activity at Hsuan Wu Tang (玄武堂) were dressed in red shorts and red headbands before taking turns receiving the “bombardment” of firecrackers in what must be one of the most exciting experiences they’ve ever had, reported Liberty Times.

A Hungarian student described how “thrilling” the experience was, even though he sustained a few wounds from the blasts of the crackers. Another participant from Germany told the bystanders he didn’t feel fear as he had faith in the protective power of the deity, wrote Central News Agency.

It marked the eighth year that Rotary International has organized the event. According to Taitung County Magistrate Rao Qing-Ling (饒慶鈴), bombing Master Handan is a key element in Taiwanese traditions to celebrate Lantern Festival. A movie introducing the custom was filmed in the eastern region of Taiwan, and is slated for release soon.

Lantern Festival events in Taitung (Photos/CNA)