Xixiang Pak Tai Temple Performances
Every year on March 3rd of the Lunar calendar, large-scale celebrations are held at Xixiang Pak Tai Temple in honor of the birth of Pak Tai Ho. The activities either begin on the 28th or 29th of February, commemorating Pak Tai Ho, or “Pak Tai Lord”, and the citizens pray for blessings of good weather, peace and good harvest. They ask that he remain within the temple for nine consecutive days until at least Mach 2nd or March 6th.
The main activities include: 1. Indoor and outdoor festivities; 2. A folk culture themed temple parade, which consist of; colour floating, Kylin (a mythical creature) and lion dances, as well as talent performances; 3. Nine days of puppet shows and opera performances; 4. A Poon Choi (or “Big Bowl”) feast. The parade centers within the Xixiang Pak Tai Temple, but also travels within the two kilometer radius of the temple. At noon, participants gather onto the stage to meet before departing for the parade. Many colorful flags lead the parade, followed by two long dragons, two phoenixes, and then two Kylins.
Then come half a dozen lions, folk dancers, flowers and costumes. Additionally, a marriage team is present, equipped with a traditional silk ball and customary wedding preparation. Propped with umbrellas and drum teams, performers of Yangko (a popular rural folk dance) fill the streets with lively music. People also honor the local fisherman, by dressing as mussels, weaving mesh nets and fishing for shrimp. The highlight of the parade is considered to be the colour floating team. All the festivities continue until five in the afternoon, at which the Poon choi feast begins around the park of the temple. People can then begin to taste the prepared delicacies. At night, the audience is fixated upon the puppet and opera show. Then, the celebrations are concluded with a Taoist ritual in the Pak Tai Temple.
The Xixiang Pak Tai Temple Performances have a long history, and are recognized as a grand-scale festival to openly honor distinctive folk culture and fish farming customs. It has become the platform for displaying the culture of Lingnan and Bao An Xixiang.
This piece is a translated work, translated from Chinese to English as part of the Shenzhen Nonmaterial Heritage Project of Shenzhen Polytechnic University and Shenzhen Museum.