By Terence Nip
The Hoffman Agency, Hong Kong
Papier-mâché effigies, colorful costumes, a bun-snatching competition and a 60-foot bamboo tower are all exciting aspects to one of Hong Kong’s oldest festivals – the Cheung Chau Island Bun Festival.
The festival – held each year to ward off evil spirits – has been gradually rebranded as a tourist attraction by the Hong Kong Tourism Board. However, many indigenous Cheung Chau villagers still regard the ceremony as a pivotal part of their daily lives, and of the precious culture of Hong Kong.
While only 30,000 people live on Cheung Chau Island, the popularity of the festival draws 60,000 local and foreign revelers. Time.com even deemed it as one of the world’s ‘Top 10 Quirky Local Festivals.’
The Piu Sik, or floating parade, usually includes locally themed floats featuring traditional Chinese mythological characters. These floats pass along the harbourside of the main road of the dumbbell-shaped island. At the head of the parade, red sedan chairs carry deities from all the temples in Cheung Chau.
This year, the decorated floats, musicians, flag-bearers and gongs were greeted with an unusual twist. A local child was featured in the parade in an effort to promote healthy eating; and two British brothers, aged six and five, depicted British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver and a farmer.
The special appearance was part of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Day (May 17) and the Cheung Chau Women’s Association’s efforts to advocate the importance of healthy eating and food waste reduction.
The Jamie Oliver trio did not only attract local media attention to food conservation in the community, but also added a layer of social commentary to one of the most celebrated festivals in Hong Kong.
(Photo credit: Food Revolution Asia)