Special folk activities Taiwan's first incense - Sigang Incense Ritual
Sigang Chingan Palace incense ritual has been in existence since 1784, at Bafen Yide Palace (now called Guma, or Aunt, Palace), where the first ritual (commonly known as "cutting incense") was held. A three-year statute was made in holding this event, in April of the Lunar Calendar, although the exact date is not fixed for each ritual. Due to the Zengwun River floods, Yide Palace (Aunt Palace) ritual was stopped, so Sigang Chingan Palace took over the ritual ever since the fourteenth incense ritual (1823), Commonly known as "Sigang Incense Ritual", it is an incense ritual combined with religious activities.
From the first ritual to this date, a span of about two hundred years, the number of villages participating in ritual activities has gradually expanded from the original 13 to 24, then 36, 72, 78 villages, and now there are more than 90 villages participating in the incense ritual parade throughout Sigang, Cigu, Jiali, Anding, Annan, and other districts.
After "Sigang Incense Ritual" was taken over by the Chingan Palace, following the customs of king ceremony and incense cutting ritual, and building a huge cutting incense scale today, on the whole, Signag incense ritual has the following characteristics:
1. Long history: Since 1784, Signag incense ritual has been held at Bafen Yide palace (Aunt palace) to pray for water. It has more than 200 years of history to this date. For two hundred years, except in 1943 when it was forced to stop due to the war, the ritual has almost never stopped.
2. Incense rituals combined: The main content of Sigang insence ritual combines both the cutting incense parade and king ceremony, which is rare in religious activities in other regions.
3. Walking and cart combined: Sigang incense has a vast territory, including the northern and southern villages along the Zengwun River. The parade route is very long, thus creating "walking into village, cart out the village" special ritual. The whole incense parade is spectacular to watch.
4. The ancestral pilgrimage: Today, Signag incense ritual heads to the Luerman Tianho Tem-ple before the ceremony, inviting the gods to Chingan Temple to "enjoy the fun”. It also goes to Jiali Green Dragon Palace to invite Baosheng Dadi. The welcoming parade is as spectacular as the incense parade itself.
5. Expressing gratitude and atonement: During the incense parade, believers who ask for blessings and pray for personal and family well-bing, often volunteer to clean the ritual route and carry grass horses and paper chains in the ceremony, fully demonstrating the pious faith of the believers.
6. Decrees: The Sigang incense ritual follows ancient laws and regulations. The ChingAn Palace has predecessors who handed down the "ritual book," stating the relevant laws and regulations, personnel access rituals and taboos, all in accordance with ceremony rules. These ancient laws and regulations exhibit a strong sense of reminiscence of the past, demonstrating how important the ceremony rules are for the believers.
6. Village troupes: Signag incense ritual is still preserving the traditional style of the village founding troupes, the number of which is truly amazing. The troupes still ad-here to the ancient rites of "enter the hall", "explore the hall" "open the hall" and "thank the hall".
8, King-boat ceremony: Sigang incense ritual worships the king-god, inviting the king as well as bidding farewell to the king, marked by the last day of the king-boat burning ceremony.