[10.08.14. Added a gallery to the post. The pictures should be in the same order in which they’re described below.]
I happened to go to the Yonghui Supermarket early this evening to do some shopping which had been delayed by blogging. When I got back to the flats, I could hear music and fireworks in one of the narrow alleys down below us and spotted a group of people celebrating the Lantern Festival (元宵节 yuánxiāo jié; 上元节 shàngyuán jié; 灯节 dēng jié). I grabbed my camera and snapped a few pictures as they made their way through the local area. In fact, even as I’m typing, they seem to be determined to blow up those parts of China which they didn’t blow up when they were celebrating the New Year.
According to one sources, the Jade Emperor was angry at a town for killing his favourite goose. A fairy warned the people to light lanterns throughout the town so that when the Emperor looked down from heaven, he thought the town was already on fire, and that the goose had been avenged. The Lantern Festival celebrates this every year. Another source says that it has its origins in a rite honouring Buddha during the Han Dynasty.
Picture 001 is a shot looking down from under the block flats just across from ours. Actually, this is the same place where I got the picture of the bird that I posted earlier this week. You can see a table with food on it and the people in the parade with their banners on the right. Picture 002 is a shot looking down along the alley along which they came. The parade stopped outside various houses where monster-sized sticks of incense were being burnt, and people set off fireworks. You can see a close up of one of the tables with offerings on it in picture 003. I can’t quite make out what the banner says in picture 004, but I know it says something about the King of Heaven Temple. In picture 005, you can see a local shrine, again with some offerings in front of it. This is just across the street from the previous picture. Picture 006 is one of those huge incense sticks. This is at the other end of the alley that you can see in picture 002. Picture 007 is some fire crackers being let off. I snapped this one rather hastily, hence the crackers aren’t centred. For some reason the parade go to the end of the alley and started marching into the house there. You can see this in pictures 008 and 009. I thought the latter was quite good because the blurring gives the image a dynamic feel. Picture 010 shows the rest of the marchers coming along the alley. Picture 011 is the people in the march who waited around at the intersection for a while. Actually, the picture was fortuitous, because I didn’t notice the girl in the lavender-coloured outfit in the midst of the sea of yellow. She had a pair of cymbals. The marchers then set off some skyrockets which you can see in picture 012, before some of them started to move on (picture 013), but in picture 014, you can see a group who remained, playing instruments, dancing and singing.
I’m quite pleased with the pictures I got. They came out much better than I was expecting, even although I had nothing to steady me and used the camera’s low light setting to compensate for the conditions. I think flash photography would’ve destroyed the atmosphere, and the images such as 008 and 009 would lack a sense of movement.
I’ve never seen anything like this in China before. The celebrations seem largely restricted to local areas, and possibly where there’s a higher density of older people as there is around this part of the island. There were a few children and quite a number of the marchers would’ve been in their twenties, but I’d say that that particular age group was underrepresented as onlookers in all this.