Animal rights group wants end to divine pig contest
CNATAIPEI, Taiwan -- A Taipei-based animal rights group has reiterated a call for an end to a generations-long divine pig contest, in which swine are force-fed to enormous sizes before being sacrificed in religious rites.
February 21, 2013, 12:04 am TWN
Chen Yu-min, director of the Environment and Animal Society of Taiwan, repeated the call during a ceremony at the Sanxia Zushi Temple in New Taipei over the Lunar New Year holiday to award the person with the heaviest pig.
In an effort to produce the heaviest possible pigs, farmers often force-feed the animals, making them too heavy to move, Chen said, pointing out that this is animal abuse.
The Sanxia Zushi temple is one of the few in Taiwan where worshippers still celebrate the birthday of the local deity known as Chingshui Master with a divine pig competition, Chen said, describing it as encouraging brutality.
When the worship ceremony was held at the temple Feb. 15, members of the society were on hand to call for an end to the contest and displayed a divine pig made of candies and flowers, she added.
The history of the ritual dates back to the 1895-1945 Japanese colonial rule era, when farmers were encouraged to raise heavy pigs as part of efforts to improve pig-breeding techniques, Chen said. Those with the heaviest pigs would be awarded in worship ceremonies, she added.
Gradually over the years, the contest became associated with religious ceremonies at temples, which led to a trend in which pig raisers resort to inhumane methods to produce super-heavy pigs, she said.