Cheung Chau Bun Festival 2007 - things to see and do 2007年長洲太平清醮

Though most attention on the Bun Festival focuses on the parade day - this year to be held on 24 May - it's actually held over several days: this year's Bun Festival starts on 21 May (there's also a Climbing Carnival the day before) and ends on the 25th.

On the Hong Kong Toursim Board's page CHEUNG CHAU BUN FESTIVAL 21 - 26 May, you can find a little info and download a pdf file with some more details and an events calendar - though, curiously, this omits the grand exorcism, which is a key function of the festival.

The Climbing Carnival is scheduled for noon - 6pm on 20 May; will be held on the Bun Festival space rocket cum climbing tower thing in the football court in front of Pak Tei Temple.
雖然每年大部分的注意力集中在會景巡遊那一天(今年將於5月24日舉行),但其實太平清醮實際上是舉行數天的:今年包山節的慶祝活動於5月21日開始,(前一天,即20號,有一個包山攀爬嘉年華會),而整個節慶在5月25日結束。

在香港旅遊發展局的網頁:長洲太平清醮5月21日至26日,你可以下載一個PDF檔案,裡面有更多節慶的細節,例如:時間、地點、節目等等。但奇怪的是,有些祭祀儀式並未記錄在內,這些祭祀活動可是整個太平清醮的關鍵活動。

攀爬嘉年華會在5月20日中午至下午6點舉行,屆時將於前北帝廟廣場前的足球場進行,供人攀爬的是位於足球場內鋼製的包山。

21 May

At 11am the next day, there's a ceremony to invite gods from various temples around the island (yes, any jealous gods who may be reading this page: there is not only one god here!).

That evening, too, there's a Chinese opera in a temporary theatre right in front of Pak Tei Temple - operas will also be held on each of the next three evenings. They're kind of fun to watch for a few minutes, with colourfully costumed characters "singing" [to me, can seem like sing song wailing], a mini orchestra playing away with drums n cymbals n so forth, but it's mainly local old folk who watch the operas throughout. Good, too, for photos.

And at 9pm on 21st, also in front of the temple, there's a ceremony to mark the start of the festival.

Not mentioned by HKTB: but Taoist priests surely in action, too.

The island's restaurants start selling only vegetarian food: much of it rather sloppy beancurd in sauce. (Not sure if some keep selling meat n fish; but even McDonald's joins in, replacing Big Macs etc with vegetarian burgers).

5月21日

上午十一時,有一個請神儀式;由法師到長洲各神廟邀請神明,到北帝廟建醮場地。

當天晚上,可以在一個臨時搭建的戲棚欣賞中國戲曲(在北帝廟廣場的右前方)這些戲曲會演至5月28號日晚上。你可以去聽聽看,你會發現蠻有趣的,因為是用很傳統的唱腔演出。[於我來說,這些戲曲倒像在唱〃哭歌〃],會有一個小型樂團演奏打鼓和銅鈸等等為其伴唱,但主要都是當地上了年紀的人在觀看。

在21日晚上9點,有一個開光儀式─法師頌經替各神明開光後,慶典隨即開始。

這個儀式在旅發局的網頁沒詳細提及,但實際上是有道士作此儀式。

島上的餐館在太平清醮期間,只出售素食:大部份都是有醬汁的。(不肯定會不會有餐館肉類食品;但那段期間麥當勞也會入鄉隨俗只售素食,以素菇包來替代那些含肉類的漢堡包)。

 

22 May

Expect more rituals enacted by Taoist priests, plus gods  Festival site in front of Pak Tei also busy with people sightseeing, burning incense to big bamboo n paper gods. More opera.

Not real exciting, but at least should be possible to roam around without being jostled in crowds, taking photos and so o

5月22日

這天的凌晨就是起醮之始,應該會有很多祭祀儀式舉行。北帝廟前的建醮場地會塞滿觀光人士、燒香、參拜神明的善信,也有觀看戲曲的人。

雖然這些活動不是太能令人興奮,但也可以享受在擁擠的人群中漫逛、拍照等等。

23 May

at 2.30pm and 3.15pm, lion and unicorn dances scheduled - in front of Pak Tei Temple. Much else continuing as 22nd.

In evening, at 8pm, Chinese acrobatic performances to be held - perhaps right in front of the main bun towers. In previous years, performances have included fire eating, so can be entertaining.

5月23日

下午2時30分和下午3時15分,在北帝廟廣場前會有麒麟醒獅表演;是日還會繼續一系列祭祀儀式。

在晚上八時,在三座大包山前面將舉行中國雜耍表演,往年的表演還包括吃火,相當充滿娛樂性。
 

24 May: the big day of the Bun Festival 2007

In the morning, Taoist priests will conduct small ceremonies at places on Cheung Chau where ghost lanterns have been placed for the festival. Perhaps few people will pay much attention.

At 10.30am, there will be a kung fu performance at the festival site.
At 11.30am, there will be a unicorn performance (unicorn dances look - to me - a lot like lion dances).

I've previously seen Taoist priests doing odd performances on this day, so maybe they too will be delighting and baffling crowds as they help scare misfortune from Cheung Chau.

The Bun Festival Parade will start at 2pm, lasting for around two hours. Well before this, expect streets along the route to be thronged with people who have taken good vantages, or are trying to squeeze into places where they may have a good view. Note, too, that i can be very hot: ensure you have plenty to drink.
The parade ends with some teams that took part engaged in a pell mell rush back to Pak Tei Temple - including to bring back Pak Tei himself (well, the effigy of him: for the parade, he is carried in a rather grand sedan chair).

After the parade, things quieten down for a while. There's more opera, plenty more incense burning at the parade site. Many visitors leave - expect long, long queues for ferries departing Cheung Chau.
But perhaps the most fascinating - and certainly the eeriest - part of the festival is yet to begin. Ignored by the HKTB, the exorcism is the key climax of the Bun Festival.

According to local lore, wandering ghosts have had three days to feast on buns placed on the towers (how do they cope with plastic wrappers nowadays, I wonder!).

In late afternoon, the effigy of Dai Sze Wong is removed from the festival site, and placed on the nearby watefront. Locals come by, and set out dishes with liquid (tea), as well as some food - to draw in the ghosts, give them some last food before they depart.
More and more food is brought, and paper is burned in front of the god; the sun sets, and the ghosts feeding continues after dark. A small hut is erected, looking down the lines of food, to Dai Sze Wong; the place for Taoist priests who will conduct the exorcism.

Before midnight (around 11pm?), priests sit in the small hut; there's low chanting. And, a priest signals it's time - the ghosts have had their fill. The Dai Sze Wong effigy is set ablaze, taking the ghosts back to the underworld for another year.
The buns on the towers can now be taken by people: they're hacked down.
It's also ok for restaurants to revert to selling meat, fish etc (though I've an idea that in recent years, the festival's vegetarian phase has ended even by the evening of the parade day).

And at midnight, there will be a climbing competition, up the metal framed tower which this year is covered in plastic bun

5月24日:太平清醮的大日子

這天上午,道士將進行一個小儀式,在長洲一些地放置寫有「孤魂」和「野鬼」字樣的燈籠,但也許很少人會注意到這一儀式。

上午十時三十分,將會有功夫表演。

然後在上午十一時三十分,將有麒麟表演(在我看來,舞麒麟跟舞獅很相似)。

我以前見過道士會在這一天做額外的儀式,也許他們想透過儀式將所有不幸、不好的事都遠離長洲,令這小島繼續安康。

太平清醮會景巡遊將於下午二時開始,歷時約兩小時。預期巡遊路線的街道會擠滿了人,大家都想佔好的位置觀看表演;順帶一提,天氣會很熱:要確保你有足夠的飲料飲用。

巡遊結束後,一些參加的隊伍會趕緊回北帝廟─當場會把北帝一拼帶回廟內(那天北帝的神像會座在神轎內一起巡遊)。

會景巡遊完全結束之後,應該會靜下來一陣子。戲棚還是會有戲曲演出,建醮場地仍有善信到神棚膜拜...但許多遊客應該會離開─預期那天會有等船的人會排成一列長長的隊伍,等待乘船離開長洲。

但接下來會有令人著迷活動舉行,是整個節慶最詭異的一部分。旅遊發展局並未把它列入他們為太平清醮所製的流程中;這也是打醮的另一個高潮活動。

據當地傳說,孤魂野鬼可有三天時間「享用」包山上的平安包(現在他們是如何應付包著包子膠袋,真的不得而知)...黃昏的時候,神棚內的大士王會被移到附近的海旁,人們會預備茶酒牲禮,以及一些紙錢─給那些孤魂野鬼享用的,人們叫此活動為「祭幽」..入夜以後,祭幽正式開始。

在祭幽的場地,會臨時搭建一個竹棚,擺滿牲禮茶酒,道士會在這棚子進行普渡。

午夜前(大約11pm?)普渡的道士會低聲唸經...而其中一名道士會示意─孤魂野鬼們已飽餐一頓,人們就會將大士王拿去焚燒,寓意大士王帶領孤魂野鬼們回到陰間,下一年始再來。

在包山上的平安包,會有人摘下來─以備第二天派發給市民。
此時餐廳可回復賣肉類、魚等。(雖然我知道,近年來當巡遊結束,市民就會開始吃回肉食)。

半夜,將有搶包山比賽,搶的是北帝廟足球場的金屬骨架包山;今年是在架上的包子是膠製的。

25 May

At 9am, locals queue to collect buns from the main towers: they're said to have medicinal value.

And at 2pm, there's a slimmed down Bun Festival parade, as gods are returned to their temples (though a fisherman's god likely went back to his place before the main parade even finished).

5月25日

上午九時,島民會排隊領取從包山上摘下來的包子;他們相信這些包子有藥用價值。

而下午二時,會有一個小巡遊,把先前請來的神明一一送回到屬於他的廟宇內(雖然漁民信奉的神明─洪勝帝,已在較早之前先回廟宇)。
Cheung Chau history and culture: 

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