Tung Blossom Festival showcases Hakka culture
By Alan Fong, The China Post
April 16, 2010, 3:29 pm TWN
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.