Siraya Night Sacrifice
Dongshan Kabua Sea Howling Festival Kabua Sua is situated in the vil. of Donghe, in the Tainan City Dist. of Dongshan, and is tribal Vil. belonging to the Seolangh subtribe of the Siraya people. In addition to their annual Kabua Sua Night Festival, held on the night of the fourth day of the ninth lunar month and into the morning of the fifth, at midday on the fifth on a road not far from the public house another festival is held, the “Ocean Festival.” Local farmers set out sacrificial offerings along either side of the road, then a priest calls to the gods from a makeshift altar, dedicating the sacrifices to the spirits of ancestors who died on the seas to the southwest, commemorating and comforting the spirits. Villagers select sacrifices of food to offer the spirits and take them to the altar, inviting the spirits to watch the ceremony. Then the priest leads the villagers and songstresses in prayers, and the songstresses ring the altar as they sing ancient songs and the priest holds the ancestral scepter and runs forward, calling to the gods. After the songs, the priest casts an oracle, then an assistant priest goes to the front of the villagers’ offerings, removing sugarcane leaves that have been placed in wine bottles, an action that signifies that the gods have accepted the sacrifices. The ceremony then finishes, after around a half-hour. This ceremony gives visitors a chance to witness the devotion of the people of Kabua Sua to their ancestors and their determination to never forget their roots. It is also one of the most unique ceremonies in Taiwan’s Aboriginal community, being an inland festival dedicated to the sea. Toushe Village Taizu Night Sacrifice The village of Toushe is situated in Tainan City’s Danei Dist.. The name Toushe—meaning “head community”—comes from the village’s location, at the main traffic thoroughfare formed by the area being the only point where the Zengwen River runs from the plains into the Yujing Basin. Another story behind the name is that this is the site of the first village established by the Siraya subtribes—the Sinkan, the Soelangh, the Baccloangh, and the Mattauw—in the 17th and 18th centuries as they were forced off their lands by the encroaching Chinese immigrant farmers and into the mountains; the area also became home to a number of other tribal settlements, and so the first and main settlement became known as the “head” village, hence Toushe Vil.. Once a year, on the 14th and 15th days of the tenth lunar month, the main Siraya cultural festival—the “Ancestral Night Festival”—is held. The festival is the largest, most well known of the Pingpu night festivals, and is held at the Toushe Public house. In addition to the traditional earthen urns and pots used by the Siraya to represent the ancestors, upon entering the public house to pay worship, one can light incense as part of the tradition. In the course of the festival you can see paper sacrifices being burned and incense smoke wafting upward, the results of the local fusion of Aboriginal and Chinese cultures. Regardless of this fusion, though, Toushe is still very strict about the progression of the Night Festival, starting on the first day of the ninth lunar month with a ceremony seeking the protection of the gods for the people, their animals, and the land. Then on the first day of the tenth lunar month the festival continues with an opening dedication and the burning of a pig’s head, bamboo knives, and wreaths of flowers, a process aimed at cleansing the public house, in addition to a sacrifice of betelnut signifying the ushering out of the old and the welcoming of the new. These ceremonies are also directed toward the gods, asking for their presence. On the 14th day, the changing of the flags and attire of the public house statues proceeds, and the following day a closing taboo ceremony is held. During these final ceremonies, songs are song and the local people pray to the gods and the ancestors, and the atmosphere is one of solemnity and reverence. After the sacrifice of the pigs is complete, a representative comes forward to announce the names of the sacrificial pigs and the reasons for their sacrifice to the ancestors, and afterward songs are sung to conclude the ceremony as the pigs are rolled over. After the ceremony is concluded, a tribal elder pours rice wine in the mouths of the pigs as a further offering, and once the taboo ceremony is held the festival as a whole is regarded to have successfully concluded, with no more of the songs allowed to be sung. The Night Festival offers a valuable, in-depth insight into Aboriginal culture and is a wonderful representative of the merging of Aboriginal faith and Chinese folk religion.