Tai­wan FES­TI­VAL MUST-SEE: AMI HAR­VEST FES­TI­VAL

Asian Geographic - - East Asia -

A fes­ti­val mark­ing the end of the rice har­vest among Tai­wan’s in­dige­nous peo­ple, the Ami, this cel­e­bra­tion can last any­where from three to seven days, and sees Ami across 40 vil­lages dancing and singing to thank their an­ces­tors for a boun­ti­ful year.

Be­fore the fes­ti­val, young men in the vil­lage spend the night catch­ing river fish to pre­pare for the ban­quet. At the be­gin­ning of the fes­ti­val, an­ces­tral spir­its are wel­comed to the com­mu­nity with dancing and singing. They are sent off in a sim­i­lar cer­e­mony at the end of the fes­ti­val.

In the past, the for­mer cer­e­mony was con­ducted ex­clu­sively by men, while the lat­ter was con­ducted ex­clu­sively by women. Dancing is done by hold­ing hands in a cir­cle. The main pur­pose of the fes­ti­val is to pass down in­dige­nous tra­di­tions to the younger gen­er­a­tions, and bring the com­mu­nity to­gether to strengthen fa­mil­ial bonds. The Ami also pray to the spir­its of their an­ces­tors and ask them for bless­ings for the com­ing year.

Vil­lage el­ders per­form tra­di­tional dances, while the younger gen­er­a­tion of­ten com­bines tra­di­tional songs and dance moves with mod­ern pop. Ban­quets with in­dige­nous spe­cial­ties and mil­let wine are com­mon. In cer­tain vil­lages, com­ing-of-age rites are held con­cur­rently for young men.

Games and com­pe­ti­tions are held within each vil­lage, en­cour­ag­ing sin­gle mem­bers to look for po­ten­tial part­ners. Dur­ing the dances, men wear a colour­ful bag slung over their shoul­ders, in which a woman will place a be­tel nut as an in­di­ca­tion of in­ter­est.

TAI­WAN

Hualien Taitung

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