Sunday, April 28, 2013

Lugang's "Rival" Matsu Processional

This is one of my favorite photos from the trip photo 401925_10151634612921202_1529303997_n.jpg

Lugang's Tianhou Temple (天后宮) is not on the official circuit for the Jen Lann Temple Matsu Pilgrimage (but nearby Zhanghua's Nanyao Both temples are quite old, quite famous, quite prestigious, and quite a part of the deeply knit old Hoklo communities here - and quite involved with local "brotherhoods" (Jen Lann Gong more so - so I hear).

As you can imagine, the two temples have something of a rivalry, although it's nothing compared to Yunlin's Xingang and Beigang Matsu temples.

As such, when Jen Lann Temple's festival starts up, Tianhou has its own festival the next day, and it's quite a good one. We were lucky to catch it - unlike the Jen Lann Gong Matsu Pilgrimage kick-off - in good weather.

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This festival was more traditional than ones you see in Taipei - when I finally finish editing my film footage I'll be able to explain why in better detail, with clearer examples.

For one, though, there were far more spirit mediums. Three in this group, and several more throughout the festival, including some in costumes and some without, and some women (which is not common - I've never seen a female spirit medium in Taipei, although maybe I'm just not looking hard enough).

The guy above is facing Thousand Mile Eyes, the green demon of Matsu's two demon-turned-good-guy attendants.

We saw not one but to Jigong spirit mediums in Lugang, at different times photo 406995_10151634608836202_1364682816_n.jpg

The first of two Ji Gong spirit mediums, the night before the big festival.
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These guys are carrying the sedan chair for Hu Ye (Ho Ya in Taiwanese), the Tiger God who sits beneath Tudi Gong, the Earth God. They're among my favorites - I have a great video in the clips I'm editing of them exploding a mound of firecrackers underneath the idol.

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You've seen lion dances before, I bet, but I love this photo.

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I tried to get a few more photos of people rather than "things" in this festival - here are a few that I did get -

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 Ears on the Wind is watching you photo 931249_10151634611346202_311935279_n.jpg

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Duuuude spirit mediums photo 12018_10151634612001202_563458796_n.jpg  photo 311027_10151634612241202_1448122666_n.jpg

With the blinding sun, though, it was hard to get good, clear photos without too much glare. Sadly, rather like a typhoon, one does not get to decide when a festival comes in.

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Everyone loves the San Tai Zi, or "God's 3 children". Yes, they're dancing to Gangnam Style.

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I don't know why this spirit medium has a pacifier photo 525373_10151634612831202_374246418_n.jpg
I have no idea why this spirit medium is sucking on a pacifier. I haven't seen that before. Longer-term Taiwan folks: is this a thing?

 praying to the gods - more like ghosts or petty demons or immortals - for rain, few storms, and good farming. photo 422051_10151634612866202_804106492_n.jpg

These guys are praying for no storms, good rain and sun. and good farming. It's all a part of a very traditional chant and ceremonial - more ceremonial than usual - burning of money for spirits. To me, the song sounded dark and ominous. To Taiwanese friends I've played the video for, however, it sounded perfectly normal, not scary at all.

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This guy was the second of two Ji Gong spirit mediums we saw.

A female spirit medium photo 374743_10151634613606202_102051355_n.jpg

A woman possessed like a spirit medium, but not injuring herself.

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A member of the crowd is also possessed. This happens sometimes. It sort of happened to me in Donggang, very briefly, although that was probably a combination of heat exhaustion, pounding waves, drums and heat.

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This guy's job appears to be to banish the bad ghosts photo 401205_10151634613976202_1937919994_n.jpg

This guy is writing "god characters" in the air and using the whip to scare away bad ghosts and spirits.

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Passing the idols over incense before bringing them out.

What follows after this are just some atmosphere shots of Lugang - Zhongshan Road, the old street, Tianhou, Longshan and Dizang Wang temples...if you're not really into that, you can stop here. But I felt the shots were good enough to warrant posting, so if you just want to enjoy some pretty pictures (or haven't seen Lugang before), enjoy.

Downtown Lugang photo 934900_10151634614441202_1582641267_n.jpg

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The Ding Family House, Lugang photo 309951_10151634614766202_194630786_n.jpg

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Longshan Temple at sunset (Lugang, not Taipei)

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Dizang Wang (Lord of Hell) temple in Lugang photo 374577_10151634616566202_586855847_n.jpg

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Lugang's famous - and crowded - old street photo 524624_10151634608571202_198134524_n.jpg

Tianhou temple by night photo 72115_10151634608951202_1576107050_n.jpg

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Tianhou Temple at night

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Fish eggs being laid out for sale - typically eaten with white turnip, scallion and maybe a touch of garlic.

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