Every year around the middle of the seventh lunar month, it is the time for the Hakka people in Taiwan to observe the Hakka Yimin Festival. The event has been celebrated for 181 years since 1835. At this time of the year, Yimin temples across Taiwan hold various grand rituals to commemorate the “Righteous Volunteers,” who are also known as “Yimin gods” or “Yimin Ye,” who sacrificed their lives to protect their villages in the early days of settlement.
The 2016 New Taipei City Hakka Yimin Festival was held on August 12-14, on Old Street in the Tamsui District, New Taipei City, during which Yimin gods from across Taiwan were invited to Taipei to give their blessings and protections.
The celebrations this year included the Yimin gods’ inspection tour, the god-seating ceremony, the carrying-pole rice presentation parade, the Yimin gods’ worship ceremony, Hakka folk song performances, etc.
This year, the inspection tour of the Yimin gods was especially carried out through both land and sea routes for the first time. In addition to inspecting the land areas, the Yimin gods inspected the harbor area together with other deities from local temples by means of 20 fishing boats.
It symbolizes that the Yimin gods and other deities are providing protections and bringing blessings to all the people in the entire region.
Another highlight of the festival was the unique ceremony of “Fengfan” on the morning of August 14, which signifies the tradition of presenting meals for the Yimin gods. This 200-year-old Fengfan tradition originated from the custom that Hakka people carried shoulder poles with prepared food and wine for righteous volunteers before and during battles.
After the battles were over, Hakka people thus built Yimin temples to worship the Righteous Volunteers who lost their lives during the battles.
Jointly presided over by Eric Chu, New Taipei City Mayor, and Lee Yong-de, Minister of Hakka Affairs Council, the carrying-pole rice presentation parade was participated in by thousands of people from 50 communities or organizations across New Taipei City and many foreign visitors from about 10 different countries.
The Hakka Yimin Festival is a meaningful event. Not only does it carry on the Hakka spirit of loyalty and righteousness, but it also further enhances social harmony in Taiwan.