Sunday, September 27, 2009

Confucius' Birthday 孔子誕辰日

As the world was getting ready to go to work on Monday morning, a gathering of faithful disciples of the great sage and teacher Confucius, ceremonial participants and a smallish group of curious onlookers made their way to the Confucius Temple in Tsoying, Kaohsiung to commemorate the day of his birthday about 2,560 years ago.
I was a little in two minds as to whether to go or not. I wasn't sure if the ceremony would be held here and thought it might start very early, say at 4:00 a.m. However, since I could not take good pictures in the dark, I waited until nearly 6:00 a.m. before leaving for the 15 to 20 minute bike ride to get there. I was greeted by this huge gate. Fortunately, the smaller red gates on the left had been opened and in I went.
This brought me into the following courtyard, and another gate. These gates weren't open and I had to go round to the left and enter the Temple forecourt from there.
I thought I might as well have been standing somewhere like the Forbidden City in Beijing. It was about 6:20 a.m. I was told that the ceremony would start at 7:00 a.m. sharp. At least I hadn't missed it.
Just before the 50-minute- long ceremony commenced, various participants took their positions.
The people dressed in red appeared to perform various duties like carrying incense, etc.
The people dressed in yellow appeared to be elementary school children. At least they hopefully can carry on the tradition in the future.
The people in black were modern-day disciples of Confucius, people no doubt who study Confucius' writings in depth. Many of them looked as if they could have been university professors. After all, you almost have to be one to understand the Four Books.
This was the first time I had ever tried to attend this ceremony. Many years ago when I studied Chinese in Taipei, the ceremony there was held very early and there was no way that I could get up at such an unearthly hour.
This is the entrance to the "front gate" from the inside of the courtyard.
I very much liked the mix of colors - red, yellow and black.
When I was a student of Chinese in the early 1980s in Taipei, one of my teachers spent about six months teaching us a lot of passages directly from Confucius' writings in classical Chinese.
I also had a teacher named Kung (孔), who claimed that she was the 75th-generation descendent of Confucius. At least she was somehow able to trace her ancestry that far back. At the time she taught us, she was in her 60s, and was an expert in Chinese literature.
In the past, one of the research institutions where I worked held a conference on "Confucianism and Economic Development". While the evidence isn't conclusive, Confucianism is believed to be partly responsible for the economic success stories of Taiwan and several other Asian countries.
Carrying incense.
In the olden days, these axes would no doubt have been real.
Standing guard on the other side of the gate.
Several "consecrations" were held.
The children who participated posed for a photo afterwards.
I decided to get my photo taken, too, for the record.
Outside the temple complex is a wall with a lot of engaving on it.
This close-up picture of the wall reminds me of Confucius. That is how I imagine he was.
View from a bridge crossing the Lotus Pond. The building on the right is the one where the ceremony was held.
Looking towards Gu Mountain in the other direction from the Confucius temple. Although it was about 8:15 a.m. on a Monday morning, everything seemed so peaceful. Somewhere in the distance, the city of Kaohsiung was bustling with people going about their daily business.

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