Asia Celebrates Mid-Autumn Festival: Light, Fish, Rabbit, and Prayers
The Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival was celebrated with joyous festivities throughout Asia on Sept. 12, the night when the moon was at its fullest and brightest.
Hong Kong Fish Lantern
In Hong Kong a huge fish-shaped lantern lit up Victoria Park. Envisioned by local designer William Lim, the lantern sculpture was constructed with the aid of Hong Kong’s unique bamboo scaffolding.
The sculpture is 121 feet long, 31 feet wide, and 42 feet tall. It is made from 2,360 traditional Chinese lanterns and over 2,000 bamboo sticks, with small fish-shaped lanterns and water ponds on both sides. High-tech flashing LED lights give added effects, dancing to the rhythm of the music.
The massive fish lantern has been recorded by Guinness World Records as the largest sculpture ever made from lanterns.
Malaysia Lantern Parade
In Malaysia, local Chinese held a lantern parade on the night of Sept. 10, bringing the bright lights of the Mid-Autumn Festival to Kuala Lumpur. Chinese style dragon and lion dances led the parade, followed by a long line of people holding lanterns.
Taiwan Torch Procession
A procession of people carrying torches was organized by the Shaoan Hakka people on the night of Sept. 12 in Shuibiantou Village, Yunlin County of Taiwan.
The special event dates back to the times long ago when the Shaoan Hakka people, who had migrated from the mainland, endured frequent attacks by natives. Young men therefore took turns carrying torches and guarding the village on the night of full moons. This has become a tradition and important festivity on full moon nights for the Shaoan Hakka people.
The event started with the main torch lighting, followed by fireworks that set the area aglow with silver lights. Then a procession of over 1,000 people carrying torches and led by thunderous drumming, set off for an exciting nocturnal excursion.
China’s Grandpa Rabbit
Ancient legends and traditions about the moon abound in China. Clay rabbit figurines are popular gift items for Mid-Autumn Festival. They represent Grandpa Rabbit, Du Ye Er in Chinese, and originate from the legendary Jade Rabbit pounding medicine on the moon. The rabbit also used to be a mascot of old Beijing.
Women traditionally carried out the ritual of worshipping the moon goddess on the Mid-Autumn Festival. But children would often mimic their mothers and eventually took over the ritual of worshipping Grandpa Rabbit, instead of the moon goddess.
Although this tradition has not been practiced for years, it was observed at Beijing’s Yuetan Park this year where around 300 decorated rabbit dolls were on display to the enjoyment of many children who bowed to them.
Visiting the local temple is also an ancient tradition during Mid-Autumn Festival. Around 10,000 people went to the Yonghe Temple in Beijing on Sept. 12. When the temple opened its doors at 8:45 a.m., worshipers rushed inside and filled the entire temple in less than 5 minutes. They held their incense high and bowed to the Buddha, praying for good fortune.