This week we got to join a one-in-three-year kind of experience: the Donggang King Boat Festival! This festival takes place over 7 days and involves thousands of people travelling to the city of Donggang, offering sacrifices, and performing various rituals. The king boat is built within the city over a year in advance and is meant to serve as a vessel in which the plague gods will be invited onto, but then later burnt and sent to heaven to protect the land.
We went to Donggang on the last day of the festival to film the action of the King Boat making its final journey from the Donglang Temple to the edge of the water, where some finishing touches were added – as well as hundreds of bags of ghost money – and it was set aflame in traditional Taiwanese fashion. Unfortunately for us, we got the timing a bit wrong and thought it was supposed to burn up about 4 hours earlier than it did… that made for a super late night, but some beautiful shots of the Wangye boat burning at sunrise!
If you want to know more about just who the Wangye plague gods are and what their purpose is, watch our video from last week where we talk all about it!
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A great English source for digging deeper on TFR! Updated regularly, reach out to us for a current version. Taiwanese Folk Religion – David Eastwood and OMF International.