Closing the Chinese New Year with a Lantern Festival

http://www.readthespirit.com/religious-holidays-festivals/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2013/03/wpid-Chinese_Lantern_Festival_in_Taiwan.jpgChinese Lantern Festival at one of Taiwan’s largest public monuments.SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 24: “The Lantern Festival ends the 15-day period of the Spring Festival. Traditionally, children went to the temples on this night carrying paper lanterns. Nowadays, cities in China and abroad hold elaborate festivals with glowing parade-float lanterns shaped like dragons and other large animals. People enjoy outdoor concerts and fireworks. There are thousands of smaller lanterns, too, either carried by people, or as in Taiwan, sent floating up into the sky. Many lanterns have riddles on them, with the solutions being wishes for good luck, family reunion, abundant harvests, prosperity and love.”

This vivid description is part of Deng Ming-Dao’s new The Lunar Tao: Meditations in Harmony with the Seasons, which ReadTheSpirit reviews today in another column. As Deng points out in his book, “Lighting a fire was one of the first things that primitive people learned to do.” In the Lantern Festival, the kindling of lights at night remind everyone of humanity’s shared roots. A lantern “welcomes the spirits, is brave in the darkness, welcomes people home. That light is the beginning of the human. It also represents spirituality: enlightenment.”

TAIWAN: RECORD-SETTING LANTERN DESIGNS

Deng is right to point readers toward Taiwan for this festival that closes the New Year holiday period. (See our earlier story about the Chinese New Year of the Water Snake.) Across Asia, millions of Chinese are preparing to head back to work, often in distant industrial cities far from their ancestral home towns. At such a bittersweet moment of the year, Taiwan’s night sky explodes in bright lights.

The Taipei Times reports on one spectacular lantern, this year, that will be 10-meters high and 70-meters wide, formed into a curved screen called the Ring of Celestial Bliss onto which images will be projected. “This will be the largest and most eco-friendly lantern in the world,” the newspaper reports. “The steel and bamboo used to build it can be recovered or recycled, and the recycled plastic used to make the inner projector screen will be transformed into 600 to 700 environmentally friendly bags at the end of the event. The Ring also uses 155 LED strips, which can save up to 80 percent of the energy used by more common halogen lights.”

Originally published at www.ReadTheSpirit.com, an online magazine covering religion and cultural diversity.

 

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Categories: Faiths of East AsiaInternational Observances