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Hong Kong’s ancient history comes to life in May

May 03, 2019

Asia’s World City, Hong Kong, honors its Chinese past with three unique and unforgettable ancient festivals this month of May.

Steeped in culture and tradition are the Cheung Chau Bun Festival, and the birthdays of Buddha and Tam Hung.

“The Hong Kong Tourism Board is proud to support the culture and heritage that makes Hong Kong such a vibrant city,” said Anthony Lau, executive director of Hong Kong Tourism Board.

“We invite visitors to immerse themselves in these ancient celebrations, which truly capture the color and lively spirit of the city,” he added.

Celebrated with powerful drums, riveting gongs, technicolor dragon dances, joyous crowds and mountains of Chinese buns are Hong Kong’s most unforgettable festivals this month.

Cheung Chau Bun Festival, May 9 to 13

Held on the charming island of Cheung Chau, the famed Bun Festival was named one of the “Top 10 Quirky Local Festivals” by Time Magazine, for good reason. As the story goes, the villagers summoned Pak Tai, a powerful deity, to protect them from a devastating plague, and then paraded through the streets to ward off evil spirits.

The Piu Sik (floating colors) parade is held in honor of Pak Tai, the Taoist god of the sea. PHOTOS COURTESY OF HONG KONG TOURISM BOARD

For more than a century, the villagers had celebrated the festival with the vibrant Piu Sik (Floating Colors) Parade, papier-mâché effigies, Chinese opera performances, lion dances, and delicious food throughout the week.

Where do the buns come in? Every year, local vendors produce tens of thousands of ping on bao or “lucky buns.” The main event is on May 12 at 11:30 p.m. when the mind-boggling Bun Scrambling Competition takes off.

Local vendors produce tens of thousands of ping on bao or ‘lucky buns’ for May 12 ‘s Bun Scrambling Competition.

Competitors scale a 14-metre-tall bamboo tower covered with 9,000 imitation buns and try to collect as many buns as possible in three minutes!

Buddha’s Birthday, May 6 to 12

Hong Kong marks Buddha’s Birthday with a week of carnivals and spiritual experiences. A common ritual is “Bathing the Buddha,” where worshippers wash Buddha statues with water to show respect.

Various activities take place at Po Lin Monastery on Lantau Island.

Among the events are the Celebration Carnival for Buddha’s Birthday in Victoria Park, the Buddhist Birthday Charity Concert at the Hong Kong Coliseum, and various activities at Po Lin Monastery on lush Lantau Island.

A highlight of Tam Kung’s birthday is the lion and dragon dance parade.

Tam Kung’s Birthday, May 12

A sea deity worshipped by fishing communities, Tam Kung is known for his ageless face and ability to forecast the weather. Every fourth lunar month, villagers celebrate the god at the century-old Tam Kung Temple in Shau Kei Wan.

One of the highlights is the lion and dragon dance parade, which begins on Shau Kei Wan Street Main East and ends at Tam Kung Temple.

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