Friday, October 26, 2007

Wasai-- Unexpected festivities

I came to Taiwan for the first time in the summer of 2006, and stayed in DanShui for 10 days. I came a week before the Dragon Festival, and had no idea what the festival was about. Some of our friends from the States warned us about the celebrations and massive traffic that would permeate the streets, but I wasn’t expecting much. But when the day of the Festival came, I was shocked beyond my imagination. I was shocked by the immense celebrations that filled such tiny streets! There were cars everywhere with floats and long processions of people. What scared me the most were the fire crackers. There was one time where I was walking back home through the parade and I suddenly heard a long string of fire crackers explode near my feet!! It almost gave me a heart attack! If such celebrations were to occur in the States, the fire crackers would be banned by the police or at least done at a very deserted place far away from people. I was also perplexed by a peculiar sighting. There was a young man that was beating himself on his head with a stick with sharp bumps and ridges. He was bleeding from his head and even seemed to be enjoying the pain. I was struck with a lot of fear and disturbed. What is all this?! The other peculiar thing that I noticed was that throughout the whole parade, it seemed like the police were very passive. They were only controlling the flow of traffic, and didn’t seem to be watching the people as much. To me, the parade was getting out of hand with fire crackers going off every 5 minutes in the streets. If this were to happen in America, the police would be surrounding the man beating himself, confiscating the fire crackers, and maybe even arresting people for disturbing the parade. I was just shocked. The Dragon Boat Festival would be one thing that I would never forget!!

Submitted to Wasai Taiwan by: Caroline Ogasawara
(Hsinchu, Taiwan --- San Francisco, the U.S.)

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