Since 2018 I participate in the Pokfulam Village Fire Dragon Festival and would like to share briefly with you the story behind it. If you have more to share, we love to hear from you!!
In the late 19th century, there was a plague in Pokfulam Village. The villagers made a “dragon” to pray for illness to go away and parade with it to essentially “clean” the village. The plague was since long gone but the tradition of parading with the Dragon has been kept alive. Today, the tradition has become a major event of the village. In 2017, it was listed onto The Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Hong Kong.
You may have heard that Fire Dragon is on Mid-Autumn Festival Day. In fact, it used to start the night before. Now, on the 14th day of lunar eight month, young people are invited to do the dance, to give them an opportunity to feel what exactly the “dragon dance” is meanwhile passing the tradition to the younger generation.
In the evening of the Festival Day is the Fire Dragon official ceremony. You can hear traditional drum music played loudly on Pokfulam Road (many lanes around the area are closed for the dance) to worship gods, then parade starts in front of the main entrance of the village and goes inside the village, travels all the way long through Wah Fu Estate to be finally to be sent into the sea.
In Pic: Crowd gathers in Pokfulam Village to participate in the Fire Dragon Festival. Yoyo Lau
Photo Credit: Offerings set-up. Yoyo Lau
Worship setting next to Fire Dragon house (火龍棚)
In Pic: Master Ng who made the fire dragon for decades, looking at the dance. Pokfulam Village Facebook fan page
The event is organized by the villagers every year, from crafting the dragon, training the people to dance. Villagers also invite volunteers to participate, such as traffic control and dinner set up. Speaking of dinner, this is also my favourite part of the Festival. It takes place in the yard (菜園地) of the village, a common area where many other events happen there. The yard will be decorated as many festive elements such as lanterns; there would also be a little dragon in the middle of the yard with light bulbs to signify dragon dance.
In Pic: Mid-Autumn Festival dinner, daytime. Pokfulam Village Facebook fan page
In Pic: Bamboo made lantern and Lantern riddles (猜燈謎) decorated the yard. Yoyo Lau
Villagers would prepare delicious homemade dishes to share. What’s more, there would be “lantern riddles” (猜燈謎): there will be many riddles for people to guess the answer. If you get the correct answer you can receive a gift! And the gift is usually very practical, such as toothpaste last year.
They also have a traditional toys for village kids made of tin! Remove the top and the bottom side and insert candle inside, put in horizontally and attach a stick. Unlike lanterns we usually hold it with our hand; this toy is rolling on the floor! What a brilliant idea!
In Pic: Little tin lantern. Photo from Pokfulam Village Facebook fan page
We understand a tradition can be kept through a series of activities and most importantly, is people’s engagement. Pokfulam Village is an excellent example to see the possibility, I believe you can also find something special in your living area/community!
This year’s arrangement is a bit different due to Coronavirus: there would only be the dragon head and dragon tail and only for villagers. No drum music. Hopefully the ceremony will include everything again next year!