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Many Hung Shing Temples in Hong Kong organize celebrations on the 13th of the 2nd Lunar Month, with events at Ho Sheung Heung of Sheung Shui, Kau Sai Chau of Sai Kung, Ap Lei Chau of Aberdeen, Mei Wo of Lantau Island most prominent and well attended; Hung Shing Temple at Tai Kok Tsui celebrates in advance in form of a Temple Fair on the first Sunday of March. Certain villages like Po Toi O in Sai Kung celebrate Hung Shing Festival on the 13th of the 8th Lunar Month.
Who is Hung Shing? A common folklore in Hong Kong pointed to Hung Shing as an actual person named Hung Hei, who was the Provincial Governor of Panyu County of Tang Dynasty. He was an upright official and a scholar of astronomy, geography and mathematics. He founded an observatory to forecast the weather which benefited fishermen and merchants at sea. He died early from over-exertion, and to honour his contributions, the imperial emperor gave him the title “Kwong Li Hung Shing Tai Wong of the South Seas”.
The ethnographers on the Mainland have another story. They believe that Hung Shing is the deity of the South Seas, who is also known in Cantonese folklore as Zhurong, the God of Fire. A Nankai Temple in Guangzhou, which was built in Sui Dynasty, enshrines the deity of South Seas. Down the ages, the imperial emperors continued to heap title upon title upon the deity, for example “Kwong Li Wong”, “Hung Shing”, etc. The deity became known in folklore as “Kwong Li Hung Shing Tai Wong”. Nevertheless, Hung Shing is recognized as the God of Water, because all Hung Shing Temples found in Hong Kong were originally located near rivers or by the sea.
The ancestors of the Hau Clan have settled in Ho Sheung Heung since early Ming Dynasty some 600 years ago. Within the village are the Hau Kui Shek Ancestral Hall, the Hung Shing Temple and the Pai Fung Temple; Hung Shing Tai Wong is considered the guardian of the village. The Hung Shing festival of each year is the most important festivity in the village. Besides God-worshipping plays that last 5 nights and 4 days (from 10th to 14th in the 2nd Lunar Month), a poon choi feast is held on the evening of the festival for the clansmen.
On the morning of the festival, the villagers of Ho Sheung Heung attend a worshipping ceremony at the Hung Shing Temple. The opera artists perform such opera titles as “Birthday Greetings by the Eight Immortals”, “Promotion in the Court” and “The Heavenly Maiden Offering a Son”, to offer greeting to deities. Later lion and dragon dance teams arrive and offer performances, driving the event to its peak. The climax of the activity is the Floral Tribute Scrambling, which is one of the few similar traditional activities remaining in Southern China.
At 1 pm, the representatives of different lion dance or floral tribute societies gather at the open area in front of the temple, at the centre of which a tribute scaffolding is placed. As the person-in-charge lights the fuse, a bamboo tube, representing the floral tribute, is launched into the air, and all villagers scramble to grab the tube. The next year, the tribute is returned together with such gifts as roasted suckling pig, lantern, tribute silver and fragrant oil. The event launches 7 Paper floral tributes each year and each tribute has an auspicious names. Those who scrambled for the Floral Tributes believe that it would bring good luck.
The scrambling of the first few Floral Tributes are the most vigorous. Later, with some of the organizations already scored, there are fewer competitors. This is why the first Floral Tribute is seen as the most significant and the items and cash that are returned with this tribute are the richest. Even those in the same village would scramble and even quarrel over the tribute, if they belong to different tribute societies.
The floral tribute scrambling activity held during the Hung Shing Festival aims to distribute the floral tributes – representing the deities – to the groups who worship these deities. The traditional floral tribute is a decorative construction made from paper and bamboo strips. It is 20-feet high construction with statues or spirit tablets at the centre, surrounded by auspicious decorations. The floral tribute of Ho Sheung Heung was simplified as a “tribute mirror”, on which the words “Hung Shing Temple of Ho Sheung Heung” are written. No other decorations adorn the tribute to facilitate storage.
only lanscape display is supported