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Taiwanese Culture: The Taoist Procession

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The Rich Taiwanese Culture

During the warm season in Keelung, you can enjoy the real Taiwanese culture and it’s lively atmosphere. The streets are populated by merry celebrations such as the carnival procession in memory of the birth of Keelung harbour. You can especially see the life of religious festivals brightening small towns like this. These events are kept quite secret, and most of their web pages and temple schedules are in Chinese. This is a shame, because here you can feel the real essence of Taiwanese culture in this fascinating country, one that goes far beyond the global customs by which it was influenced. I’ll tell you about the procession held in July (dates are always different because they follow the lunar calendar) both in the suburbs of Keelung and in Keelung itself: the Sheliao royal highness procession.

A Taoist Procession

This is a Taoist procession that lasts four hours, similar to some Italian religious events, but more lively, colorful, if I do say so myself. It starts from a little temple in Heping Island and in Chenghuang Temple in front of the Port of Keelung. Hordes of people play the cymbals, the sorna (a double-reeded horn like trumpets, known also as a beiguan), gongs, and other typical wooden and bamboo instruments. This is followed by the real guardians of the temple (three to four meters tall puppets, sometimes played by actors) and then by the gods of the temple carrying the sedan chair by the worshippers through “dance step” along every street in the area in a jubilant and joyful way. Sometimes, they stop to bestow those who make a special offering in honor of the gods. Words can’t do this justice, and it is unlike anything you could possibly imagine. This year, the celebration started with heavy rain, and I came to notice the true devotion of these people as they played and demonstrated for four straight hours, completely wet and yet still passionate. The procession is, how else can I say it…amazing! Taiwanese culture is amazing!

A video might better explain what I have failed to express to you so far.


A Keelung, durante la stagione calda, si puo’ godere la vera atmosfera culturale e vivace taiwanese. Le strade si popolano per celebrazioni mondane quale la sfilata carnevalesca in memoria della nascita del porto di Keelung, ma soprattutto di festival a sfondo religioso che si possono vivere solo nelle piccole citta’. Sono manifestazioni mantenute ancora abbastanza segrete, perche’ criptate per la maggior parte da messaggi in cinese nel web e nei templi. Un peccato, perche’ qui potete respirare la vera essenza della cultura taiwanese in questo paese affascinante, che va ben al di la’ delle usanze globali da cui e’ stato influenzato.
In questo articolo voglio raccontarvi della processione che si tiene a Luglio (le date sono sempre diverse perche’ seguono il calendario lunare) nei sobborghi di Keelung, la processione dei Tre Buddha reali.

Cultura Taiwanese

E’ una processione taoista che dura quattro ore, simile ad alcune manifestazioni religiose italiane, ma piu’ vivace e colorata oserei dire. Si tiene sia nell’isola Heping che a Keelung. Il tutto parte da un piccolo tempio dell’isola Heping e dal tempio di Chenghuang nella processione di Keelung: orde di gruppi che suonano i cembali, strumenti ad ancia (detti suona o beiguan – tipo trombette), i gong ed altri strumenti tipici in legno e bambu’, seguiti dai veri e propri guardiani del tempio (fantocci alti tre/quattro metri, talvolta impersonati da alcuni attori) e quindi dagli dei del tempio trasportati sulla portantina dai fedeli a “passo di danza”: tutti loro percorrono tutte le strade della zona festanti e gioiosi, fermandosi talvolta a renndere omaggio a chi fa un’offerta speciale in onore degli dei. Le parole sono del tutto vuote, non si avvicinano nemmeno a cio’ che potreste immaginare. Quest’anno la celebrazione e’ stata accomagnata da una forte pioggia, e io stessa ho potuto notare la devozione di queste persone che hanno suonato e manifestato per quattro ore del tutto bagnati senza una reale sosta (e credetemi che li ho seguiti personalmente sotto la pioggia).

Posso dire solo questo….incredibile! La cultura taiwanese e’ incredibile!

Il video sara’ piu’ all’altezza di cio’ che ho cercato di spiegare finora.

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Follow SilviaBaggiani:
As sinologist and passionate of Chinese culture i like to learn about all the culture, especially the one of my specialization. I like to travel and after three years in China i decided to join the Keelung-residence program who let me know more about this city's places&culture. The ceremonies, the dedication of people for them, the traditional music, the hidden historical places showed me a new attractive world.

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