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The yearly Chinese deity festival is an important event
for the local Chinese community and the whole village / district.
This yearly Chinese deity festival takes place in Bangkok
around Christmas holidays. The shows take place in Sathorn area.
Pictures were taken at Soi Suan Phlu, Sathorn
The name of the troupe is Sing Tong.
This Deity Festival features Chinese teochew traditional opera performance.
Chinese opera is called "GNIOU" (งิ้ว) in Thai language.
Performers were from Isan region (northeast of Thailand), China and local Thai people
with Chinese ancestors.
Sometimes Chinese opera companies are still hired not to perform
in front of live audiences but in front of invisible deities in Chinese shrines.
The opera performance starts 7pm30 and has to end up before midnight to avoid
neighbours complaints about noise.
The performance is hosted in a Chinese shrine compound. Food is given,
i.e. rice soup, sweets (green bean soup) and drinks.
In Thailand the main season for Chinese traditional festivals is end of the year.
It is not August like in Hong Kong as it is rainy season in Thailand.
Fearful and colorful dragon inside the Chinese shrine.
The cost to hire the Chinese opera troupe is around 30 000 baht a night during
the festive season but it could go down to 18 000 baht during middle of year.
Chinese opera troupe Sing Tong has a
Chinese opera actors can earn from 80 to 1000 baht per day
depending on their roles and status. Unfortunately many of them have little education.
They are always travelling from one place to another so making it difficult for children
to have a deep and focused education.
This Deity festival was a four days festival. The pictures shown here were related
to the first day only. On second day full war clothing and special guests were expected.
Before the Chinese Opera start, there is an introduction with respect paid
three times to the local deity and to the sponsor.
Chinese opera performances happen at night time.
The main stars in the Chinese Opera troupe are coming from China.
During the Chinese Opera performance, people talk and chat. Host offers the food.
The Shrine sponsor (ศาลเจ้า) is paying for the Chinese opera.
Due to cheaper price paid during the rainy season, some Thai troupes sometimes
go to Malaysia where pay is higher.
Even if it is Chinese opera, the clothes have some modifications due to local
adaptation. Today the opera is about Wang story.
Performers need to memorize text as they cannot read Chinese characters.
Money is offered to performers during the show.
Some performers, mostly women, are sleeping in tents in the Chinese shrine.
Men sleep under the Chinese opera stage.
There are much more women in the Chinese opera audience than men.
Around 14% of the Thai population has ethnic Chinese lineage.
Many of them can still understand the Teochew / Chaozhou dialect.
Red colorful lanterns are hung on cables on the main road leading
to the Chinese shrine.