I had the honour of following Lo Wai Village Unicorn Troupe from Lantau Island, on their participation of the 2010 Cheung Chau Bun Festival.
We start from the village hall, travel down to the motorised sampan, head out to Cheung Chau Island by sea, meet up with the resident Unicorn, visit their Sifu, then parade around the streets to cleanse the island of evil spirits before finally paying respects to their gods and temple.
In addition to traditional unicorn, lion and dragon dances, children dressed as legendary and modern heroes are suspended above the crowd on the tips of swords and paper fans (飘风）. They form the parade-in-the-air and are all secured within steel frames, though they appear to glide through the air. Parents consider it a great honour for their offspring to be part of the parade.
This fascinating procession is accompanied by the bedlam of musicians loudly beating gongs and drums to scare away evil spirits. It is led by a spectacular image of Pak Tai, the God of Water and Spirit of the North, to whom the island's Temple of the Jade Vacuity is dedicated.
Some info on the Cheung Chau Bun Festival.
Cheung Chau's Bun Festival, which draws tens of thousands of local and overseas tourists every year, is staged to mark the Eighth day of the Fourth Moon, in the Chinese calendar (this is usually in early May). It coincides with the local celebration of Buddha's Birthday.
The Cheung Chau Bun Festival began as a fun and exciting ritual for fishing communities to pray for safety from pirates. Today this religious origin has largely been forgotten, and the festival has mainly become a showcase of traditional Chinese culture.
In the 18th Century the island of Cheung Chau was devastated by a plague and infiltrated by pirates until local fishermen brought an image of the god Pak Tai to the island. Paraded through the village lanes, the deity drove away evil spirits. Villagers also disguised themselves as different deities and walked around the island to drive away the evil spirits.
Thanks for watching.
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