Asian Geographic

Taiwan FESTIVAL MUST-SEE: AMI HARVEST FESTIVAL

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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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