A time for Jiao
A time for Jiao
According to Guangya, “jiao” is offerings. In Shouwen Jiezi, jiao equals to the coming-of-age ceremony, wedding ceremony and sacrificial offerings. Therefore, jiao means to worship god, to pray for good luck, as well as to celebrate.
Hong Kong’s jiao festivals can be divided into two main types – Tai Ping Qing Jiao and On Lung Qing Jiao. The former is mostly found in local walled villages and the latter in Hakka communities. Jiao festivals in different districts are all organised regularly, with a majority of them being held once in a decade. The more frequently-held jiao festivals, like the one in Cheung Chau, are organised every year while the most infrequent one, Sheung Shui Heung’s Tai Ping Qing Jiao, is organised once in every 60 years.
From the religious perspective, people can “clean” a place by jiao festivals since the celebrations will bring a brand new start to the whole universe, thus making everybody work hard and carry on with their lives. Socially, as some of the jiao festivals are held once in a long period of time, villagers can meet again at the celebration events. As a result, jiao festivals have become a very precious social occasion for villagers to reunite.
The lack of information regarding the history of Hong Kong’s jiao festivals makes it difficult to find out when this custom first commenced. However, most of the festivals are related to the main temples of the respective villages. For instance, as shown in the genealogy of the Tang clan in Kam Tin, Tai Ping Qing Jiao was run for the first time in the area in the 24th year of the Kangxi reign (1685) and the Chou Wong Yi Kung Study Hall was the venue of the event.
In Hong Kong, jiao festivals are generally Taoist religious assemblies. Most of the ceremonies are held by Taoist priests from the branch of the Orthodox Unity of “Tianshi fu (天師府)”. Master CHEN Jun, who comes from Guangsheng Tang in Shajing village in Bao’an County within Shenzhen, frequents different jiao festivals of villages in the New Territories. From his ancestors to him, members of his family have been Taoist priests for seven generations.
Quite a few Tai Ping Qing Jiao in Hong Kong have a history of over a century. For example, Chung Yee Tong in Tuen Mun Heung first started celebrating the occasion in 1816. Up until now, it has been organised for more than two hundred years. By words and examples of the previous generation, many villagers of the younger generation in Tuen Mun Heung regard jiao festivals as the root of the culture of their own walled village and find it necessary to pass on the tradition. In 2016, TO Tang-shu, the representative of first destined prayer in Tai Ping Qing Jiao from Chung Yee Tong in Tuen Mun Heung, spared no effort to worship deities, which showed the spirit of protecting traditional culture.
Producer: Yoko PANG