Taiwan Fun Magazine, April 2006


Bao An Temple

By Claire Tyrell Translated by Ann Lee

Dalongdong Bao An Temple
61, HaMi Street, Datong district
(02) 2595-1676
MRT: YuanShan
Bus: Red 33, 2, 41, 246, 288, 669

Bao An Temple is an exceptional, though often overlooked, example of Taoist reverence in Taipei, and in the third lunar month of each year it quite literally explodes into festivities. Celebrating the birthday of Baosheng Dadi, the temple's main deity, the almost two-month-long festival embraces a vast array of activities involving the local community. Over the last couple of years this has included Taiwanese opera performances, gods' birthday ceremonies, lectures, exhibitions of photography or herbal medicines, voluntary medical diagnoses, academic discussions and childrens' art competitions, as well as cultural performances.

For those who seek true spectacle, there is much to amaze and entertain. Parades accompanied by horns and drums include swirling dragons, lions batting eyelids in vibrant dances, stilt dancing, tall gods leisurely swinging arms as smaller deities leap their way along the streets, and masks that appear from smoke lingers in firecrackers' wake. For those with a fearless streak, be sure to catch the evening of the Fire Release Lion (lunar 3/14) when snarling, colourful temple lions are filled with fireworks which, when surrounded by hundreds of more fireworks and firecrackers, explode into the evening sky as wannabe, intrepid spectators, just metres away, duck for cover. The following day sees temple deities being held aloft as they are carried across smouldering charcoal, as smoke and the aroma of burning rice surround participants in rarely seen fire walking.

The best thing is that all activities are free, allowing you to truly enjoy some of the finest traditional gems that Taipei has to offer in an authentic setting. The entire schedule is available from the temple website or English/Chinese leaflets at the temple itself.