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Each year, Hong Kong celebrates the birthday of Tin Hau (天后誕), also
known as the Queen of Heaven and Goddess of the Sea, who enjoys a special place in people's
hearts thanks to the territory's long maritime history. Many people in Hong Kong still
owe their livelihood to the sea and celebrate Tin Hau's birthday every year.
Hundreds of people rush to light up the first joss sticks and offer up them
to the goddess Tin Hau.
To protect fishermen and seafarers, local people offer up joss
sticks, small sums of money and oranges to the goddess Tin Hau.
Oranges, suggestive of immortality and good fortune,
are piled high. Roast suckling pigs protect against ill health and bad luck.
Persimmons represent joy. Pomegranates, with their endless seeds, denote fecundity.
During Tin Hau festival, joss sticks, suckling pigs and white wine
are usual offerings.
These villagers are carrying a 6-meter high "Fa Pau", floral paper offerings,
for celebration of Tin Hau festival.
Tin Hau can forecast the weather and save people from
shipwrecks. However, since the decline of the local fishing industry and advances in meteorology,
the goddess has expanded her role to watching over families. Hong Kong parents often offload the
responsibility of raising their own children to the goddess by making her their godmother.
The beating of drums is the background music for the fearsome dancers.
Two people wear a colourful paper-mache lion head. With full coordination they
move through graceful gestures, expressing the feelings of the lion.
The lion may be shy, playful or even angry and the steps of
the performers convey this mood to the audience.
Local people buy paper spinning wheels which will bring
good luck to their home.
This lion comes to worship Tin Hau. The lion shall not show its bottom to the goddess so
it has to walk backwards.
On the festive day, believers perform lion dance and drums,
carry other items and offer them to Tin Hau deity at Tin Hau Temple.
Spectacular parade of lion and dragon dancers goes to the local Tin Hau Temple.
There the village teams collect the "Fa Pau", floral paper offerings,
and perform in the temple yard.
The most famous festivities for Tin Hau birthday happen
in Yuen Long Town with a spectacular parade through the streets. 25 teams
of performers, including lion dancers, dragon dancers and other artists formed a procession.
From the stadium the teams march back to the Tin Hau Temple at Tai Shue Ha,
where tribute is paid to the statue of Tin Hau. This is followed by drawing lots for
the right to carry the most prestigious "Fa Pau" next year.
Beautiful dragon dance worshipping Tin Hau performed on Tsing Yi island.
In the background, a series of "Pai Lau" or traditional decorative billboards
have been erected.
The Yuen Long parade, in the New Territories,
include colourful floats and lion dances. The procession of parade through the
streets takes about two hours.
When two communities meet, their lions bow to each other's Tin Hau statues.
Sometimes the lions greet each other and have a dance together before
they move on.
The Tin Hau birthday festival culminates in a procession and
is characterised by floral paper offerings known as "Fa Pau".
Lions and Dragons Dances
A grand procession features golden dragons, colorful lions and unicorns, and participating
teams from local villages and organisations.
Tin Hau birthday events are organised by local Celebration Committees
and local Rural Committees.
Tin Hau is worshipped in more than 70 temples in Hong Kong.
Famous temples include the Tin Hau Temple in Stanley, which was restored in
During Tin Hau Festival, dragon dances and lion Dances are performed on
the streets and in temple yards.
Lion Dances are believed to frighten the evils when they complete the full dancing.
The lion dancer jumps about on top of iron posts. The poles have various heights,
so it increases the risks and difficulties of the dance.
A lottery is organized. The prices are elaborate
altars, made of bright paper, which are brought to the temple by participating
associations. Each altar is numbered.
In the temple yard, food stalls sell local snacks such as fish balls, sausages and
drinks such as soya milk.
Huge 20-feet-high "Fa Pau" or floral paper offerings erected
in the Tin Hau temple yard.
Previously the festival was celebrated by a colorful
competition. Small associations were represented by young men who fought over lucky coins fired from
a small cannon. The Hong Kong Police has banned this competition in the early 1960s.
The Tin Hau festival culminates in a procession and is characterised
by floral paper offerings known as "Fa Pau".
To celebrate Tin Hau auspicious birthday, fishermen decorate their
boats and gather at Tin Hau temples to pray for fine weather and good catches during the coming year.
Every year, fishermen gather for a big celebration at Joss House Bay, and traditional rites are
performed at the temple.
Paper flowers, known as "Fa Pau", are offered during the celebration procession.
A grand procession featuring dragon and lion dances is going through the village.
A stretching hundred-feet-long Dragon is dancing on the parade route. Young men
are lifting parts of the dragon.
Tin Hau or the Queen of Heaven is a deity especially associated with
fishing people and those who rely for their living on the sea. The opera
performances commemorate the birthday of the goddess.