Today is THE day, the climax of 5 days of celebrations, and as I write this, events are ongoing, with firecrackers and drums and trumpets and singing and offerings and all sorts of activity, and being attended by nearly everyone in the whole town.
And all in the rain and cold! It’s been like this all weekend, but hey, when there’s a festival in town, a bit of rain and cold won’t stop anyone.
But this was the scene on Thursday, the last time that the sun appeared in Sanzhi!
Two weeks ago, I wrote here about the preparations for the centenary celebrations of the Sanzhi Matzu Temple (honouring Matzu / Mazu / Matsu, Goddess of the Sea), officially named 三芝小基隆福成宮 Fu-Cheng Gong. The 5 days of celebrations officially started on Wednesday, and today is the new moon, the first day of the 10th lunar month, so it’s the big day today! See all these people? And their umbrellas….
There’s been a lot of preparation, red lanterns strung all around the town, large gateways on the main roads leading into town, and for these 5 days virtually the whole town has gone vegetarian. Market stalls selling meat – and butchers shops (there’s at least 10 in total) have closed down completely for the 5 days, including the famous 三芝老地方 Lao Di-Fang Steamed Baozi Restaurant, and plenty of others where the main specialty involves meat or fish. Others are open, but only selling vegetarian food. Even the huge Farmers’ Cooperative Supermarket has all fresh meat removed from the fridges.
All the roads leading to the main temple have been closed today and large tables set up on the roads, on which people are making their offerings, and each local village is assigned a different table area….
Some of the tables near the temple contain what is more like an exhibition, including one of an amazing dragon ice sculpture (yes, honest, it’s all ice – with real dripping water!)…
There’s lamps carved out of water melons….
And there’s plenty of offerings of dead animals, including pigs….
Goats (spot the lit cigarettes)….
The lady at the bread shop told me that this was the place to see all of Taiwan’s folk culture on display all at once, and once only in 100 years. It certainly is, and so in that spirit, I share with you the photos, firstly of last night at the main temple area….
And these of this afternoon…
And now this evening, as I passed by……
Really quite something eh?!