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Tung Blossom Festival showcases Hakka culture

Friday, April 16, 2010
By Alan Fong, The China Post


The annual Hakka Tung Blossom Festival (客家桐花祭) is the biggest and most famous floral festival in Taiwan. In 2010, the organizer, Cabinet-level Council for Hakka Affairs (行政院客家委員會), will inject a strong dose of energy into the festival by using music and dance as the central concept of the event that celebrates Hakka culture.

After setting the theme “Dance with Tung Blossom in the Winds of Spring; Let the Sound of Music Ring through Hakka Villages” (桐舞春風, 樂揚客庄), the Council commissioned a host of star musicians and choreographers to compose music and dances for the 2010 festival.

The star-studded list includes singer-producer Chen Guo-hua (陳國華), folk song singer Chen Ming-chang (陳明章), indie pop musician Ma Nien-Hsien (馬念先), rock & roll group The Chairman (董事長), Hakka singer Gu Shao-chi (古少騏), renowned Hakka pop singer Ayu Huang (黃連煜) and star choreographer Chang Sheng-feng (張勝豐), who composed a dance specifically for the festival.

The council also worked with the local governments of Hualien (花蓮), Yilan (宜蘭), Keelung (基隆), Taipei (台北), Taoyuan (桃園), Hsinchu (新竹), Miaoli (苗栗), Taichung (台中), Changhua (彰化), Yunlin (雲林) and Nantou (南投) to sponsor 800 cultural and commercial events during the festival.

To advertise Taiwan's culture and to promote the local economy, the festival will also release hundreds of Tung flower (油桐花) themed products in 74 Hakka restaurants and 106 vending locations.

Speaking at a press conference for the launch announcement on April 12, Council for Hakka Affairs Minister Huang Yu-cheng (黃玉振) pointed out that over 1,000 free T-shirts for the 2010 festival were all given out in eight minutes after they were made available online, a fact that highlights the popularity of Hakka culture.

The Hakka Tung Blossom Festival, now in its ninth edition, is not only a floral festival but, more importantly, a ceremony in which the Hakka people pay honor to the heaven and earth as well as remember their roots and culture.

The Tung flower was chosen as the symbol of the festival due to the Hakka's strong attachment to the plant. Tung trees were once extensively cultivated in Taiwan's Hakka areas and served as an important source of income for the people, who extracted oil from the tree seeds and used the wood as raw material. Even though the Tung tree is no longer as important economically to the Hakka, the people still cherish the plant and regard it as a symbol of their culture.

Gradually, the rich Hakka culture and the beauty of the Hakka areas during the Tung blossom season has started to draw visitors from all over Taiwan and even abroad to the festival. In total, the festival attracted more than 10 million visitors over the years and generated tremendous economic support to the local community.

The highlight of the 2010 festival is the four big cultural events and 14 free-of-charge “Under the Tung Tree Concerts” (桐花樹下音樂會). The first cultural event, the official opening of the festival, “2010 Hakka Tung Blossom Festival Opening Ceremony” (2010客家桐花祭開幕式), will be held April 17 at the Miaoli Shangrila Paradise (香格里拉樂園). The ceremony will include a Hakka ritual worship to the Mountain God, music performances by Hakka singers and award ceremony for the “Tung Blossom Star Singing Competition” (桐花之星音樂大賽).

On April 24, the Hsinchu County Mystery Forest Resort (神秘國度森林渡假村) will host a forest carnival for the festival, which includes performances by star singers Pin Guan (品冠), Luo Si-rong (羅思容), --u Jie-ren (許仁杰), the Zhumeng Dance Troupe (築夢舞集), Chai Found Music Workshop (采風樂坊) as well as traditional Hakka lion dancing.

Meanwhile, the Kunlun Herb Plant Tourism Garden (崑崙藥用植物園) in Taoyuan will host the Natural fragrance of Tung Blossoms concert on April 25 featuring Forum Music (十方打擊樂團), a candidate for the Best Traditional World Music Album of the Grammy Awards, The Chairman and a performance of singer --ie Yu-wei (謝宇威) among others.

Parents are especially welcomed to bring their children to the “Parents and Children in the Wonderland” (親子遊仙境) event on May 1 at the Ta Shee Blooming Oasis (大溪花海農場), featuring renowned children program host Zhang Shan-wai (張善為), better known as the Brother Happy (黑皮哥哥), If Kids Theatre Company (如果兒童劇團) and Momo Channel's children program stars Sister Peach (小蜜桃姊姊) and Sister Jelly (果凍姊姊),Brother Caramel (焦糖哥哥), Sister Vanilla (香草姊姊) and Tung Blossom Figures.

The “Under the Tung Tree Concerts” include 10 outdoor and 4 indoor performances in Nantou, Miaoli, Hsinchu, Taoyuan and Changhua.

To further enhance the specificity of the Tung Blossom Festival and to reward visitors, the council is issuing 30,000 Hakka Card (好客卡), which can be translated as “Good Hakka Card” or “Guest Welcoming Card” with a pun on the character “客” (meaning guest/Hakka), to the 2010 festival. Holders of the Hakka Cards are entitled to special offers and discounts at special Hakka restaurants, shops, hotels and other services.

► For further information on the festival or time and location of the aforesaid performances and activities, please visit:

http://tung.hakka.gov.tw

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