Tuesday, March 01, 2011

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Pigs of God Festival, Sanxia

3/01/2011 Taiwan Explorer
A festival of extremely fat pigs

The Pigs of God Festival 神豬 (sometimes called contest) is an annual religious celebration in Sanxia celebrated by Hakka people, usually around Chinese new year. Pigs are fed so much, that they can't move. Then they're weighed and publicly slaughtered and displayed near the temple. The festival draws huge crowds and a big media attention. But for some people in and outside Taiwan, this only few decades long tradition a festival of cruelty. There are websites and petitions demanding an abolishment of the forced inhumane feeding of pigs, who usually exceed 700 kg and suffer major internal injuries. I have to add that according to sources, this way of feeding pigs is illegal in Taiwan, but the law is not enforced, because the authorities don't want to meddle into the affairs of local religious groups.

The festival originates in the 19th century during the Qing Dynasty. At that time, the pigs were sacrificed, but not force-fed. During the Japanese occupation of Taiwan (1895-1945) the Japanese encouraged the locals to feed the pigs more, so that locals could have more pork to eat (in those times meat was not as abundant as now). In the recent decades however, pork is not scarce anymore and the feeding of the pigs turned into a contest. Some believe that the fatter their pig is, the more blessings they will receive from the Gods (source).

Here's a video of the dead pigs displayed near the Zushi Temple in Sanxia.

These are some photos of the event:

Huge masses of visitors.

Even the media is drawn to this big festival.

The dead pig stuffed with a pineapple.

The dead pigs attract a lot of attention.

Inside the temple food is placed and donated to the Gods.

The famous old temple from the 18th century.

Noise, smoke and huge masses of people: Not very appealing to foreign tourists.

Here are more articles on the issue, if you are interested:

[My SANXIA post][TAIWAN CULTURE page][All photos by LilyChen, 2011]