Xiayuan Festival is one of Chinese traditional Taoist festivals celebrated on July 15 in Lunar Calendar. In Taoist system, there are three holy officials respectively: Heaven Official, Earth Official and Water Official. Heaven Official serving blessing to humankind; Earth Official serving absolveness ghost from guilt and Water Official serving solutions to avoiding dooms. Three officials’ birthdays respectively are January 15, July 15 and October 15, and they also called Shangyuan Festival, Zhongyuan Festival and Xiayuan Festival. Xiayuan Festival is the birthday of Shanggu Dijun who is Taoist Water Official.
October is the harvesting time in countryside. The water official would see about the earth and collect the hidden dangers and dooms and then report to heaven government in order to eliminate these harms to humankinds. On this day, in some places, nearly all families would specially make the sticky-rice balls with vegetable stuffing and offer them to sacrifice Heaven outdoors after balls are boiled. Taoists in temple would hold some special Taoist rites to let the heaven know the calamity in the world. In front of some Taoist temples, some poles being erected with yellow banners featuring the characters of “天地水府”(Heaven-Earth-Water Official Mansions), “风调雨顺”(food weather for the crops), “国泰民安”(The country flourishes and people live in peace) and “消灾降福”(Eliminating Calamity and Giving Blessing) and so on. At night, three lanterns would be hung on the poles. In folk society, people used to sacrifice the souls and pray for help from water official to exclude the calamity. Besides, the central government on the earth also had the special policy on this day that the people were temporarily forbidden to kill the livestock and the prisoners sentenced to the death penalty would be delayed to be executed.
After the establishment of Republic of China, this local custom was gradually deposed. And some rites of Xiayuan Festival were moved to Zhongyuan Festival since then.
Writer: David from Seeraa International
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