Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Taiwan lantern festival 2007



I love lantern!! 

It is so beautiful to have such a number of lanterns floating in the skies. I feel it is very romantic. Let these light reach out to the darkest corner of the world. =)

History:

The 15th day of the 1st lunar month is the Chinese Lantern Festival because the first lunar month is called yuan-month and in the ancient times people called night Xiao. The 15th day is the first night to see a full moon. So the day is also called Yuan Xiao Festival in China. According to the Chinese tradition, at the very beginning of a new year, when there is a bright full moon hanging in the sky, there should be thousands of colorful lanterns hung out for people to appreciate. At this time, people will try to solve the puzzles on the lanterns and eat yuanxiao (glutinous rice ball) and get all their families united in the joyful atmosphere.

Earliest origins

There are many different beliefs about the origin of the Lantern Festival. But one thing for sure is that it had something to do with celebrating and cultivating positive relationship between people, families, nature and the higher beings they believed were responsible for bringing/returning the light each year.

One legend tells us that it was a time to worship Taiyi, the God of Heaven in ancient times. The belief was that the God of Heaven controlled the destiny of the human world. He had sixteen dragons at his beck and call and he decided when to inflict drought, storms, famine or pestilence upon human beings. Beginning with Qinshihuang, the first emperor to unite the country, all subsequent emperors ordered splendid ceremonies each year. The emperor would ask Taiyi to bring favorable weather and good health to him and his people. Emperor Wudiof the Han Dynasty directed special attention to this event. In 104 BC, he proclaimed it one of the most important celebrations and the ceremony would last throughout the night.

Another legend associates the Lantern Festival with TaoismTianguan is the Taoist god responsible for good fortune. His birthday falls on the 15th day of the first lunar month. It is said that Tianguan likes all types of entertainment. So followers prepare various kinds of activities during which they pray for good fortune.

Young people were chaperoned in the streets in hopes of finding love. Matchmakers acted busily in hopes of pairing couples. The brightest lanterns were symbolic of good luck and hope. As time has progressed, however, the festival no longer has such implications.



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