Category Archives: Taiwan

The Chinese Spring Lantern Festival


Myself . 

By T. V. Antony Raj

.

Chinese Lantern Festival at night at ChiangKaiShek Memorial Hall in Taipei, Taiwan (Photo: PhiloVivero)
Chinese Lantern Festival at night at ChiangKaiShek Memorial Hall in Taipei, Taiwan (Photo: PhiloVivero)

.

Nowadays, lanterns are used as general light sources outdoors. Low light level varieties are used for decoration. The term is now commonly associated with Chinese paper lanterns.

The Chinese Emperor Wu of Han the seventh emperor of the Han dynasty of China, ruling from 141–87 BC, employed poets and musicians in writing lyrics and scoring tunes for various performances. He patronized choreographers and shamans for arranging the dance movements and coordinating the spiritual and the mundane. He was fond of lavish nighttime ritual performances under brilliant lighting provided by of thousands of torches. The Emperor directed special attention to the Spring Lantern Festival. In 104 BC, he proclaimed it to be one of the most important celebrations and the ceremony would last throughout the night.

Though there are many different beliefs about the origin of the Lantern Festival, one likely origin is the celebration of “the declining darkness of winter” and community’s ability to “move about at night with human-made light,” namely, lanterns.

According to Taoist tradition, the fifteenth day of the first lunar month, Shàngyuán, corresponds to the “Official of light” who enjoys colourful and light objects.

As early as the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 25), the Chinese Lantern Festival or the Spring Lantern Festival (元宵节)] that marks the final day of the traditional Chinese New Year celebrations had become a festival with great significance.

Emperor Wen of Han (202–157 BC), the third emperor of the Han Dynasty of ancient China after subjugating the insurgency of Zhulu declared the fifteenth day of the first lunar month as the Lantern Festival. It usually falls on some day in February or March in the Gregorian calendar.

The Chinese emperor Wu of Han the seventh emperor of the Han dynasty of China, ruling from 141–87 BC, employed poets and musicians in writing lyrics and scoring tunes for various performances. He patronized choreographers and shamans for arranging the dance movements and coordinating the spiritual and the mundane. He was fond of lavish nighttime ritual performances under brilliant lighting provided by of thousands of torches. The Emperor directed special attention to the Spring Lantern Festival. In 104 BC, he proclaimed it to be one of the most important celebrations and the ceremony would last throughout the night.

So, Han Dynasty takes credit for the celebration of the Spring Lantern Festival.

.

Chinese Lantern Festival at night (Source: chinatravetour.wordpress.com)
Chinese Lantern Festival at night (Source: chinatravetour.wordpress.com)

.

During the Lantern Festival, children go out at night to temples carrying paper lanterns and solve riddles on the lanterns.

.

Yu Yuan Snake lantern installed at Yu Garden, Shanghai (Source: httpschoolhouse.com.)
Yu Yuan Snake lantern installed at Yu Garden, Shanghai (Source: httpschoolhouse.com.)

,

In ancient times, the lanterns were fairly simple, and only the emperor and noblemen had large ornate ones. In modern times, lanterns have been embellished with many complex designs many in the shape of animals. The lanterns are made almost always in red to symbolize good fortune.

.

People let go the lanterns on Chinese Lantern Festival (Source: schoolhouse.com.tw)
People let go the lanterns on Chinese Lantern Festival (Source: schoolhouse.com.tw)

,

When the people let go the lanterns it symbolises their letting go of their past selves and getting new ones, which they, in turn, will let go the next year.

In modern days, in Hong Kong and Taiwan, the Chinese Spring Lantern Festival is commercialized as the Chinese equivalent of Valentine’s Day.

In Singapore and Malaysia, it is simply known as the “Lantern Festival” and is becoming popular in Western countries also.

.
RELATED ARTICLES

Lantern (en.wikipedia.org)

History of Lanterns (1708gallery.org)

Lanterns in Han Dynasty (traditions.cultural-china.com)

Emperor Wu of Han (en.wikipedia.org)

Lantern Festival (en.wikipedia.org)

Advertisements

The Chinese Double Ninth Festival


Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

.

Once upon a time a man named Huan Jing believed that a monster would bring pestilence to his country. After asking his co-villagers to hide on a hill he went alone to defeat the monster.

Later, people celebrated Huan Jing’s victory over the monster on the ninth day of the ninth lunar month as the Double Ninth Festival (Chung Yeung Festival).

Since then, the Double Ninth Festival observed on the ninth day of the ninth month in the Chinese calendar has become a traditional Chinese holiday. The Chung Yeung Festival is mentioned in writings even before the East Han period (25–220 AD).

yin-yang

Duality is found in many belief systems, According to the Chinese I Ching, or Classic of Changes, yin and yang describe how opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interdependent, and interconnected, in the natural world, and how they may give rise to each other since they interrelate to one another. So, Yin and Yang are parts of a Oneness equated with the Tao.

.

The 24-hour-yin-yang-cycle
The 24-hour-yin-yang-cycle

.

In the above diagram, Yin is the black side with the white dot in it, and yang is the white side with the black dot in it.

The relationship between yin and yang is often described in terms of sunlight playing over a mountain and a valley.

Yin (meaning the ‘shady place’ or ‘north slope’) is the dark area occluded by the mountain’s bulk, while yang (meaning the ‘sunny place’ or ‘south slope’) is the brightly lit portion. As the sun moves across the sky, yin and yang gradually trade places with each other, revealing what was obscured and obscuring what was revealed.

According to the I Ching, nine is a yang number. Since the ninth day of the ninth lunar month (or double nine) has too much yang the date is considered potentially dangerous. Hence, the Double Ninth Festival is also known as “Double Yang Festival” (重陽節).

To protect against danger, it is customary for the Chinese to climb a high mountain, drink chrysanthemum tea, and wear the zhuyu (茱萸) plant, Cornus officinalis, a species of dogwood known also as Japanese cornel or Japanese cornelian cherry. Both chrysanthemum and zhuyu are considered to have cleansing properties and are used to air out houses and cure illnesses.

.

Chai Wan Cemetery Hong Kong on the Double Ninth Festival (Photo: Susan Gerbic)
Chai Wan Cemetery Hong Kong on the Double Ninth Festival (Photo: Susan Gerbic)

.

On the Double Ninth Festival day, the Chinese visit the graves of their ancestors to pay their homage and respects by cleaning and repainting inscriptions. Incense sticks are burned. They lay out food offerings such as roast suckling pig and fruit, before the graves which are then eaten later after the spirits have consumed the spiritual element of the food. Chongyang Cake is also popular.

In mainland China, the festival offers an opportunity for the young to care for and appreciate the elderly.

In 1966, Taiwan rededicated the holiday as “Senior Citizens’ Day”.

Though Double Ninth Festival may have originated as a day to drive away danger, over time it has become a day of celebration like the Chinese New Year. In contemporary times it is an occasion for hiking. Mountain climbing races have become popular and the winners get to wear a wreath made of zhuyu.

.

RELATED ARTICLES

Is Your Urine Yellow?


Myself 

 

 

BT.V. Antony Raj

.

Urine (Source: sciencedaily.com)
Urine (Source: sciencedaily.com)

.

Many people feel that urine is not a proper subject for discussion. Normally, men do not give their urine more than a passing glance as it swirls out of sight down the toilet bowl, and women in all probability might not even see the urine they excrete.

For most people, urine is not a subject for discussion. Normally, men do not give their urine more than a passing glance as it swirls out of sight down the toilet bowl, and women in all probability might not even see the urine they excrete.

Yet, since the earliest days of medicine, urine has been a useful tool for diagnosis of diseases. Changes in its color, consistency, and odor can provide important clues about the health status of our body. Urine can reveal what we have been eating, drinking, and also what diseases we have.

In Ayurveda system of Hindu traditional medicine, there are eight ways to diagnose illness: Nadi (pulse), Moothra (urine), Mala (stool), Jihva (tongue), Shabda (speech), Sparsha (touch), Druk (vision), and Aakruti (appearance). Ayurvedic practitioners approach diagnosis by using the five senses.

Tibetan medicine approaches the diagnosis of illness  through three methods: questioning (asking the patient), feeling (pulse diagnosis), and seeing (observing urine, tongue, eyes, and skin). The first urine of the morning gives indications of the hot or cold nature of a disease and nyepa imbalances. Urine is analyzed for its smell, steam, bubbles, color, and a sediment known as kuya, formed in the production of bile, appears as sediment in healthy urine.

In modern western medicine, the color, density, and smell of urine can reveal much about the state of our health.

.

Color of urine (Source: kasperka.co.za)
Color of urine (Source: kasperka.co.za)

.

Today I came across a humorous video on Facebook titled “How Yellow is Your Urine?” posted by my Taiwanese friend Angel Chen. I have included that video below.

The video is funny and at the same time educative. It stresses that the Taiwanese are “truly a ‘good’ bunch of workers.” It says that one of Taiwan’s wealthiest entrepreneurs often asks his employees: “How Yellow is Your Urine?” because he thinks that if an employee is truly hard at work, he would not have time to drink water, leaving more time to focus on his work. As a result, his urine would simmer inside his bladder to a beautiful amber color. And, he believes that a worker with potential bladder problems would be a good employee.

.

RELATED ARTICLES

.