Monday, November 28
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Travel Cheung Chau : Fun, fervour & food

The historic fishing village of Cheung Chau celebrates its Bun Festival in the liveliest manner. So Travel Cheung Chau to look out for things-to-do at a new place

Travel Cheung Chau
Cheung Chau

When we travel, there is always a concern to look out for things-to-do at a new place, explore new cultures and also participate in festivals happening in that place. Last year, I visited Hong Kong in the first week of May. Our tour guide suggested we participate in the ongoing Bun Festival in Cheung Chau, one of the old villages, which is just a short ferry ride from Hong Kong. The festival is a showcase of traditional Chinese culture.

History

The Cheung Chau Bun Festival is a one-of-a-kind of the festival that is full of folklore and tradition set in the picturesque island. The festival takes place in the first week of May. Huge bamboo mountains covered with handmade buns are set up near the Pak Tai Temple where the majority of the celebrations take place. The buns are offered to the sea God, thanking him for protecting the island from evil spirits. According to the legends, the festival originated after the island was plagued by an epidemic that killed thousands. So, the locals brought in the God, Pak Tai who conquered the disease. Since then, the festival is celebrated every year on Buddha’s birthday.

Tradition

People offer fruits, incense, and buns to God. There are colorful celebratory and worship items on sale. Children come dressed in colorful costumes that resemble the mythological Chinese deities, to scare away evil spirits.

A week-long festivities encompass a wide range of activities from parades, prayers, and offerings to God, opera performances, beating the drums, lion dances, martial dance, and the culmination of the festival by the bun scrambling competition. The competition style has been changed now that suits modern health and safety standards and includes skilled people who climb the bun tower to fetch the plastic buns.

Buns

After the ceremony is over, the buns are distributed to people and are also available at the local bakeries. These buns are made from flour, sugar, and water and would sometimes include flavors such as sesame, lotus, or red bean. They would also have the Chinese character for peace stamped upon them.

Being vegetarian while travel Cheung Chau

Three days before the festival, people of the island who believe in the spirit of this festival turn into vegetarians. The traditional restaurants also serve dishes involving lots of bean and curd items formed into different shapes. Even the small cafes don’t serve their regular menu but vegetarian treats like mushroom stews, sweet-and-sour tofu cubes, fish-shaped taro cakes, fried spring rolls, and so on.

The festival, which is over 100 years old is a blend of coming together, praying, and warding off evil spirits.

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