- Posted October 23, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Travel photo of the day
Burning Boat Festival
Once every three years in the small town of Donggang, Taiwan, a 14-meter wooden ship is constructed for the sole purpose of burning. First the boat is paraded around the city to collect the sicknesses and ill fortune of the people. Then it is stocked with food and necessities for the spiritual journey ahead. Finally the boat is propped upon a giant mound of ghost money on the beach and set on fire via military grade firecrackers. The ill spirits are thus forced out of the town, leaving peace in their place.
The entire town comes abuzz for the festivities with food stalls, vendors, lanterns, fireworks, and traditional Chinese plays. The festival gathers a large crowd of both foreign and domestic tourists as well, eager to watch the spectacle of a ship burnt to ashes. The ritual takes the entire night, and it is not until near dawn that the firecrackers are set off. But good things come to those who wait; those of us who stayed awake for the entirety were rewarded with quite a spectacle.
I had already been living in Taiwan for a year when I went to document Burning Boat Festival. However, this celebration was unlike any I had seen during my time on the island. There is something mesmerizing about watching the flames that engulf the ship and hearing the deafening roars of the firecrackers as they explode. I was especially struck by the fiery reflection cast out on fellow spectators’ faces.