A Night of the Torches 火把节: 6th Day of 1st Lunar Month 农历正月初六
There is a belief in the Teochew region that the multitude of deities the people worship report back to heaven once a year on the 24th day of the 12th Lunar Month and return to earth on the 4th day of the 1st Lunar Month. In the subsequent days the guardian deities of every village are carried around in a boisterous parade to bless the community.
In Iang-mui village located in Gekyor (Jieyang) this annual event takes place as a night of the torches. As the sun sets after six in the evening, firecrackers are set alight and all the idols of the local deities are carried out from the temples to tour the area. Villagers and businessmen carrying lighted torches follow along to walk through every street. The long queue of people form up like a fiery dragon, as fireworks light the darkness to create a rousing atmosphere.
Pageant of the Pigs 赛大猪: 8th Day of 1st Lunar Month 农历正月初八
This is the day of a yearly pageant of pigs held in Gueh-phou village outside Swatow city. The “contestants” are adorned with gold earrings and a large Mandarin orange placed in their mouths to symbolise good fortune. The event, which kicks off at 11pm the night before, is actually a local adulthood initiation rite for all males 24 years in age. The pig that wins the pageant is the one that is both the fattest and the best-dressed. To round up the ceremony, participating families, with pigs their tied to poles on shoulders, run off in race to see who reaches home first.
Lantern Parade 游灯: 9th Day of 1st Lunar Month 农历正月初九
This is the evening of a lantern parade in Thenghai's Longdou Hok-iang village, which begins with the beating of gongs by the village elders. Villagers form up in a procession to throng the narrow and winding lanes, and march three full rounds around the community. The youths raise excitement with continuous cries of “one, two three... lift up your lanterns”. An electric mood is sparked by the glow of fireworks and the sounds of firecrackers and shouts of the crowd - the louder the noise, the people believe, the greater is the coming prosperity.
Dance of the Fire Dragons 烧火龙: 10th Day of 1st Lunar Month 农历正月初九十
The dragon dance is not unfamiliar to most Chinese. However the villages of Gekyor's Khiau-lam and Khiau-sai villages celebrate their New Year dancing fire dragons brought to live by sparklers in accordance to a tradition dating back to the Ming dynasty 600 years ago. Endless firecrackers and fireworks set a spectacle of colours and excitement that will mesmerise everyone present.
The Photographer 摄影师简介:
A Taiwanese born in Myanmar, Ling Shyue Miin is a professional photographer and presently a photography lecturer at Shantou University (STU). He graduated from the prestigious Nippon Photography Institute in Japan, specialising in advertisement photography and digital photography. He is the recipient of multiple international photography awards, including the Italian Associazione Culture Cyprea and Tokyo Fifth Hasselblad Award. Since moving to Swatow several years ago, he has fallen in love with the Teochew culture and has travelled to all corners of the area to capture images of its people and life.
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