Taiwanese celebrate pared back traditional festival with firecrackers
YANSHUI (TAIWAN) – On Friday night, firecrackers illuminated the sky over Taiwan as people celebrated a traditional festival in the south of the island. This year, the celebration was pared back because of the pandemic.
Held near Taiwan’s old capital of Tainan, the Beehive Fireworks Festival in Yanshui is known for its cacophony and fiery atmosphere. Participants wear motorcycle helmets and thick coats to avoid burns as streets are bombarded with fireworks and firecrackers.
It is held to coincide with Lantern Festival, marking the final day of the Lunar New Year celebrations. The event was doubtful because of the concerns of authorities regarding the pandemic spread although the island has less than 30 active cases.
However, the Tainan government gave the green signal although fewer revellers were allowed to participate in the festival.
Weng Tsai-chin, chairman of the Yanshui Wu Temple, said previously there used to be 200,000 revellers for the festival.
“Although you don’t see too many people here, there are lots of people watching the live stream at night,” he said.
The festival gets its name from the thousands of rockets which are set off from decks along the street simultaneously, creating a roaring sound that is supposed to sound like bees.
It originated in the late 19th century during a cholera epidemic, when fireworks were set off to drive away the sickness.
“Many people supported the festival to be continued this year and we cannot stop holding the festival,” said resident Ah Hsien, 18. “We especially need to have it now during the prevention of the epidemic. This is a culture to eliminate the plague.”