Although “Shih Gang Zi Xiang” isn’t held regularly in the fourth
month of the year of Chou, Chen, Wei and Xu (by lunar calendar)
and it may vary in different temple branches, the arrangement is
usually done according to god’s direction and is settled as
1. La-miao (January 9th of the previous
La-miao is a meeting that people make plans for the coming
Gua-xiang activity. It is a way of notifying temple followers
and the neighbors the coming ceremony. It is also a way of
gathering new ideas for the ceremony.
2. Zhhu-Hui-Jiao-Xuan (January
9th of the previous year)
Shih Gang includes areas such as: Shih Gang street, Jiao-zi-tou,
Wa-cu-nei, and Hai-nan pu. Usually, local leaders of these
places are to be selected to participate this ceremony and Qian
Sui god will pick five of them to be the main characters of the
next ceremony: the chairman, the deputy, the co-organizer, the
organizer, and the prayer. These five people carry significant
responsibilities in the rituals.
3. Locate specific materials
(This job must be done by October in previous year)
Locating specific materials for the rituals is the most
important job at beginning. Traditionally, they take a couple of
real trees for the rituals. It is usually Chinese Banyan that
(2) These trees are taken as
treasures. People held some rituals to inform gods that the
treasures had been found so the god can recognize these
Once the rituals are performed, people bring back these trees
back to their temple and leave it in the factory to make a King
Ship. At this moment, the factory is automatically transferred
into a sacred place where is banned to enter unless authorized.
These trees must be peeled and be painted with red paints. Red
color represent good luck and happiness.
Greeting valuables is a ritual to be practiced before these
trees are send to Nan-hai-pu King Ship factory. A Taoist priest
performs a ritual of greeting tree spirits.
After these valuables are brought back to the temple, there are
two more rituals to be performed. One is greeting and the other
is setting valuables in the temple. The first worship (toward
trees) will be held after the trees are settled. These rituals
are taken in the lateral hall.
This ritual is made to ask more blessing from gods.
Back to Top
on dragon eyes, clothes, five string colored lines
Setting on dragon eyes is a ritual of putting wood eyes for the
dragon carved on King Ship. King Ship is spiritually given a
real life when the eyes are placed. Decorating a red cloth on
the top center of the ship is the next step. At the middle of
the red cloth, a mirror of monster must be attached to the cloth
which is believed to be able to expel evils. Setting up five
strings of colored lines and attaching three ancient coins with
each of the lines are the next step.
5. Choose a flag officer (in the
middle of January)
flag officer was an state governor who holds a blue flag with
the word “Ling (Commend)”. This flag gives royal powers to a
flag officer when carry on duties. These men are called flag
officers. In holy pilgrimage, such culture still exists. An flag
officer was sent by Qian Sui god and was given the duty of
looking after people on the earth. He/She also has to guide a
troop holding Qian Sui god’s Commend and solves problems. This
is a highly respected position in gods, and many of the culture
followers are eager to fight for this role to play in the
ceremony. In Shih Gang, people cast the divining blocks to ask
for god’s opinion and this is held at the middle of the January.
Back to Top
6. Making an Official Gate
The Incense ceremony in Sing An temple includes a gate building.
People make a door that represent an official gate. This gate is
called “Xing-tai (a platform)”where is decorated exactly the
same as the doors in temples. All the carvings and patterns are
very similar to those ones in the temple.
7. The Capitan of King Ship
The captain and his two helpers are selected to organize things
in building the ship. These people will have to go up to the
ship and lead the ship. These people are also chosen through
casting divining blocks.
Back to Top
8. Rise Light pole/ Sing An
temple: in the end of the March; 78 villages involved: at the
beginning of April
Usually, the ceremony of sending disease gods away is performed
nearby the temple. People rise light poles according to their
traditions. This rising light pole ritual is meant to greet gods
come into the ceremony. Furthermore, it represents an invitation
to wondering ghosts to come for a festival. Ghosts may be
crossed over through this ceremony.
Patrol/ At the end of March
South patrol is a day trip. People leave their temple and come
back when the nights come. The place they patrol is in downtown
Tainan and Ren-de township. The first stop was Qing-long temple
in Chia-li village which located in the north of Sing An temple.
Thus, at the beginning of this trip, it is actually a way of
going north rather than going south. The chairman of Qing-long
temple, Wu Zhen-ren, is believed to be the selected one that
represents a god. Therefore, he was arranged to be one of the
main characters who greet gods in the practice of South Patrol.
King Ship launching ceremony/ At the beginning of April
King Ship launching ceremony was not an actual loading the ship
onto the water. It is an operation of spilling some water onto
the ship and this operation symbolizes the ship has been going
onto the water. After water was spilled to the ship, people work
together to move the ship for five meters long. The movement of
this ship symbolizes the ship has been, from now on, sailing on
water. Later, every one grab a ladle and spill water to the four
directions: the South, the North, the West, and the East. This
signifies the ship is on water already.
temporary residences for gods.
During the patrolling period, these gods are provided residences
so that they can take a rest. The main hall is established
inside the temple. On the left, it is Zong -jun residence. On
the right, it is Zong-gan residence. In Zong-jun residence,
people worship Zong-jin god who is responsible for guarding the
safety of Qian Sui god. Zong-gan residence is, on the other
hand, a place where people worship Zong-gan god. Zong-gan is a
god of leadership and is responsible for guiding Qian Sui god
out into the ocean. During this ceremony of sending disease god
away, the main hall is the most sacred place. No one will be
allowed to enter unless authorized. Yu-ci Sing An temple worship
the Mother God usually. However, during the ceremony, it also
worships Qian Sui god. This worship to Qian Sui god often starts
from the 5th of April.
12. Welcome the Mother God –
Matu/ at the middle of April
People in Shih Gang Zi went to Lu-er-men to pick up Matu (the
statue of Matu) before holy pilgrimage began. In 1985, it was
supposed to be a trip to pick up Matu in Tu Chen. However, some
people changed their mind and went to Pei-kang to pick up the
statue of Pei-kang mother god. This had caused a serious
argument of the people in Tu Chen. They eventually brought back
their own Matu statue and swore never to participate this
sending fire gods away (Huo qiao)/ at one afternoon in the
middle of April
This is a ceremony of sending fire gods away and means to expel
fire accidents from everyday in the future. People worship fire
gods first and then they send fire gods away.
Back to Top
14. Boiling oil and expel the
evil/ the night of sending fire god away
Before the ceremony of sending fire god away, people must boil
oil inside the main hall. This symbolizes cleaning the evil
spirits from the coming people and purifying the main hall. When
the workers of ceremony pass by the old tank, the Taoist priest
will spray some rice wine above the boiling oil tank and cause
some sparkles. This is believed to be able to expel evil things
out of people.
15. Greeting god/the day of sending
fire god away, midnight.
“Qing Wang” means to greet Qian Sui god. In Shih Gang, Qing Wang
and Song Wang (send god away) ceremonies are held at the same
place in Zseng Wen area. At the King Ship factory, people
prepare tables of food and tools for this ritual. Once
everything is settled, the ceremony starts and Qian Sui god is
16. Greeting Xian-Ku-Niang-Ma in
More than two hundreds years ago, it was 1784. One follower of
Ku-ma temple found a ship of gods drifted in Zseng wen river.
The villagers thus brought this ship to Ku-ma temple and worship
it. At that time, the neighborhood villages, such as Ku-ma
temple, Ba-fen, East bamboo forest, Litchi forest, Wu bamboo
forest, double Cheng, Under village, Guan village, Mango forest,
Back village, Lower village, Tou village, and the Iron-made
village had decided to start the holy pilgrimage every three
years. Ku-ma temple is the origin of Shih Gang Qua Xiang (share
incense in Shih Gang).
/The Ghost Festival (Four days long, be held with the share of
to traditions, the Taoist priests arranged five days of work and
these works were to be finished into three days. On the first
day, sky flags and peace flags are to be set up calling for
protection. People read Chao-tan-da-can aloud and offer seven
goods as contribution. A golden board will be hanged to expel
evils. On the second day, people took routes in the town with
valuables and this represents offering sacrifices to gods. Water
lanterns would be released at night. On the last day, all kinds
of gods must be offered with proper sacrifices, so did the
weather gods and the disease gods.
18. Gua-xiang and Rao-jing
(share of incense and the territorial circumventing)/ in the end
of April (the fourth day of greeting gods, usually performed
the ritual of greeting gods in King Ship, people who were
selected to represent gods start to take territorial
circumventing for three days. This route taking is a ceremony
that is believed to bring peace home. All the temples in the
nearby area send their own shrines, head stations. Centipede
station is a station made up with 108 children, and 12 people to
represent the 12 disease gods. Every one of the 12 disease gods
must ride a horse and lead the troops into two directions. The
Centipede station led by 108 children goes in a direction.
People take their children to go underneath the Centipede
station in seeking of children’s health. The other troop in a
different direction is led by the 12 disease gods. People set
tables with food in front of their houses and fire crackers to
welcome these gods. Some of the villagers also provide water and
tea for people who participate these stations.
/ ghost festival
is a ghost festival that are prepared for ghosts wondering in
the world. It starts with the rising of light poles which
represents an announcement of the beginning of the festival. All
the village followers prepare fine foods for ghosts. All the
foods set for ghosts on table are inserted with a little flag
with the name of the household who prepared them.
Sending gods away (burn King Ship)/ the next day of Gua-xiang
King Ship away was believed to be able to send bad luck away in
the old times. However, at the first time people found King
Ship, there was no bad luck to come along. Thus, people in Shih
Gang didn’t take this ship as something evil. Rather, they
believed that this was a sign of luck. Some time later, they
held King Ship ceremony to remember the luck that King Ship has
brought to Shih Gang. After the King Ship was burn down, the
main pole on the ship may fall into any direction. The direction
it fell can be a reference of which direction to go for great
fortune in the future. Wang Chao is the main part of King Ship
ceremony. It includes many of the traditional rituals, such as
greeting valuable trees to make a King Ship, apposed night drum,
and the flag officer. In the end of the ceremony, followers work
together to pull the ship into Zseng wen river and then burn it.
This scene, of course always cause great amazing.
Back to Top
Shie-deng-kao (provide gratefulness to the light poles)
are several light poles which are called “the seven star light”,
“the sky light” and “the five lights” that represent five gods.
Five representatives of gods will start with putting down their
light poles and then work together to take down the seven star
light and the sky light. All the light poles will be placed
steamed glutinous cake and steamed brown sugar buns in the
poles. This ritual is a showing of gratefulness to the earth.
The five representatives take home their own light poles. At
this moment, Shie-deng-kao ritual is completed.
Matu back to her temple
the time of burning King Ship, the temple workers, the eight
generals from Wa-cu and Golden lion station from Wu bamboo
forest have returned to Sing An temple to prepare for sending
Matu and Baosheng god back. Temple workers prepare shrines to
greet Matu from Lu-er temple and Baosheng god from Qing-long
temple into the shrines. The Matu in Sing An temple follows the
troop as a host that accompanies the guests back to where they
came from. The troop starts with drum, the eight general, the
Golden stations, the Baosheng shrine and the Matu shrine. They
stop at Qing-long temple first, and then to Lu-er temple.
Back to Top