Thursday, April 17, 2008

Pilgrimage Number Two - Update

In January I went with a friend on a religious pilgrimage down the west coast of Taiwan. Last weekend I went on another one down the east coast. I don't have time to write about it now, but below you can see the pictures and videos.

If you read the previous post, you will get a pretty good idea about how this trip went.

All the videos and pictures are uploaded and in order now. I'll add text little by little when I have time.

I will also try to put the videos on my YouTube account, so you can look there if you want:

--You Tube.
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Like the last time I went on one of these trips, my friend Yuan met me in Taipei and took me to Keelung where her family's temple is. We also picked up her friend, Carrot, in Taipei. When we got to Keelung, we stopped for a snack at a tea house.





Later we went to her family's house where I slept on the sofa. I didn't get to sleep until late--after 2 a.m. I knew I was supposed to get up at 5 a.m., but I just couldn't get to sleep.

In the living room where I slept, there is a shrine. This is fairly common in Taiwanese houses. A lot of times people have the shrine on the top floor of their home in a separate room, but in this house it is right in the living room.



I was sound asleep on the sofa near the shrine when, at 4:45 a.m., I was suddenly awakened by Yuan's mother praying at the shrine. The prayer consisted of short phrases that were repeated many times very rapidly. There were several of these phrases, and the whole thing took about fifteen minutes. I was afraid to move at first, because I didn't want to disturb her. Finally she stopped, and I crawled off the sofa and staggered out of the house and down the street to the nearest convenience store where I bought a big can of coffee.



The video below was taken at about 5 a.m. Yuan's mom is in the temple performing some ritual with a drum and bell, while her father gets supplies ready to load on the bus.

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The next video shows what I call the "noise makers" getting warmed up before the procession takes the gods out of the temple and loads them on the bus.

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The video below shows people getting ready for the procession to start. There was a guy doing some interesting gestures in front of the altar, but unfortunately someone was standing in the way and blocked the view. You can still get a glimpse of him waving his arms around.

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Finally the procession filed out of the temple and onto the bus, as you can see in the video below.

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Once everyone was on the bus and we got underway, it was time to sing the names of the gods. There are seven names that are sung, and the whole thing is sung three times each morning of the pilgrimage (in Taiwanese). Then, in the evening, a slightly different (only six lines) version is sung each night.
Note: Yuan told me that these lines are the names of the gods. I showed the picture to another Taiwanese person who told me that they aren't names. Since I am totally ignorant on the subject, I really don't know, but I tend to believe what Yuan told me because she is quite devoted to her religion and seems to have a very good understanding of it.

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In the following video you can see the procession as it makes its way from the bus to our first official stop (in Yilan).

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The next video shows the people at the head of the procession as it goes up the stairs and begins to enter the temple. The movements of the various participants don't seem to be scripted or standardized. Each temple seems to have people who act in a similar capacity, but with their own individualized style.

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In the video below you can see, among other things, some lion dancing. This was a small temple, but there were a lot of different groups visiting it. I saw a lot of costumes and various rituals going on, but unfortunately my camera battery died, so I couldn't take many pictures.


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After this my camera battery died, and there was no place to charge it, so no more pictures. Guess I'll have to buy another battery for the next trip.

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