The Pingxi Lantern Festival or the Taiwan Lantern Festival is celebrated in Taiwan every year. It was introduced by Zhuge Liang during the Three Kingdoms era. This festival is observed during the Chinese New Year and the night sky gets filled with floating sky lanterns.
Such a bewitching and enchanting view cannot be found at any other places of the world. Various activities take place during this festival. Thousands and thousands of sky lanterns adorns the sky of Pingxi which is a district in Taiwan creating a mesmerizing view. Another event that takes place is the firework ceremony in Wumiao Temple in Yanshui District.
This firework display was believed to drive different diseases and evil spirits out of town. The Pingxi Lanterns were traditionally released in order to let people from other towns know that the town from which they were released was safe and was also used as signals to convey military information. Typically these lanterns have various wishes written on them and pictures related to the owner.
People believed that these lanterns carried their wishes to heaven and conveyed them to God. In ancient times people would go to temples in order to pray for being blessed with a son and release a lantern into the sky. Together people refer to these two events as fireworks in the South sky and lanterns in the North sky. According to the Chinese lunar calendar, this day is celebrated when the first full moon appears on the sky. This celebration is accompanied by street carnival, performances and various other contests.
Originating in 1990, Tourism Bureau of Taiwan combined the resources of both local and civilian government to organize this event and celebrate this festival. Spreading Chinese traditional folklore was the main essence or purpose of this Lantern Festival. This festival is also called the Yuan Xiao Festival. The Wumiao Temple’s firework ceremony in the district of Yanshui had started centuries back to show respect for Guan Yu who is worshipped as God throughout China. There is another ceremony, Fengpao, where people burn thousands and thousands of firecrackers which are hung from wooden stands whose height ranges from 5 to 25 meters.
This starts from 6 o’ clock in the evening and continues till the next morning. All the locals as well as people from other parts gather here in order to behold the exotic ceremony. Pingxi sky lantern festival is the most significant lantern festival of Taiwan. Before 2001 this festival used to take place in Taipei at Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Park. America’s one of the most popular channels, Discovery Channel, has given this festival the title of one of the best events or festivals of the world and has also been voted by people as the second biggest celebration of the New Year’s.
- The Lanterns
In this festival there are main lanterns and thousands of other small lanterns that are released in the night sky. Traditionally the main lanterns have Chinese Zodiacs beautifully drawn on them and their heights are generally more than ten meters. From the year 1999, all the main lanterns have been given a particular theme music which varies from one to another. This music lasts for a period of around three minutes. However the small lanterns generally have historical characters, birds, animals drawn on them. They are mainly carried by the children and are also used to adorn the temples.