As part of Tainan Temple Festivals Year activities, "Saigang Koah-hiun (西港刈香)," the triennial incense-questing pilgrimage in Tainan, will take place from May 22 to 31 at Sigang District in Tainan.
The temple event organized by Qingan Temple(慶安宮) comprises distinct ritual performances of processional troupes, sacrificial rites and a procession travelling through the local territory and all its temples, signifying the tour of inspection by envoys of heaven. Designated as a national folk custom, it is acclaimed as the first among its kind in Taiwan for its long history and large-scale event.
As a prelude of the triennial temple festival, an assembly of 17 Song Jiang battle array (宋江陣) processional troupes, who performs a traditional type of martial art incorporating elements of kung fu, drumming, and mock fighting with ancient-style weaponry, was held at Sigang Elementary School on May 9. Opening with a martial art performance by 98-year-old master Ho Kuo-chao (何國昭) from the White Crane Troupe of Qigu Jade Baoan Temple (樹子腳寶安宮白鶴陣), the performances attracted a big audience.
Addressing the occasion, Vice Minister of Culture Lee Lien-chuan (李連權) pointed out that one of the biggest features of this triennial festival is that all participating processional troupes – also called tin-thau (陣頭) - are trained by local residents and each of the 17 troupes has its distinctive traditional art and culture characteristics. He added that MOC is providing incentive subsidies to the cultural and arts sector this year, and it is expected that the support to traditional cultural event will help enhance people’s appreciation of valuable cultural assets.
Tainan City Cultural Affairs Bureau Director Yeh Ze-shan (葉澤山) said, there are only two White Crane troupes remaining in Taiwan, and both are located in Tainan. Pointing out that the White Crane troupes seldom gave public performances, Yeh added he hopes that the performances at the religious festival will impress the public and inspire interest in cultural heritage.