Yimin Festival

  • Yimin Festival

    For the Hakkas in Taiwan, regardless of their time background, the Yimin has to be the center of their most important belief. The worship ceremonies may vary at different places and everybody’s concept of the Yimin Festival carry different connotations, but its existence and prevalence has seemed to become a Hakka totem.

    Generally speaking, the creation of the Yimin belief is closely related to two significant civilian uprisings in Taiwanese history. The first was the Zhu Yigui Incident in the 60th year of the Kangxi Reign (1721) in Qing Dynasty, which resulted in the erection of the Zhongyi Shrine at Xishi in Zhutian Township in Pingtung County. The second event was the Lin Shuangwen Incident in the 51st year of the Qianlong Reign (1786), which led to the installation of the Baozhong Pavilion at Fangliao in Xinpu Township in Hsinchu County. The Zhongyi Shrine in Liudui was built with more government influence. The worshipping rituals there are always performed in official procedures and have therefore created a distance with common Hakka folks. As for the Baozhong Pavilion, starting from the legend behind its construction, it has always been strong with folk belief. In order to maintain the scale of ceremonies and allow the Hakka people in Taoyuan, Hsinchu and Miaoli to participate, cross-village associations have been organized. This has not only expanded the reach of the Yimin belief but also extended its influence on Hakka groups in different parts of Taiwan and cultivated it into the most representative belief of Hakka people.

    The Baozhong Pavilion Yimin Temple at Fangliao in Xinpu Township in Hsinchu County originally attracted only worshippers from the nearby Xinpu, Fangliao and Liujia areas. During the Daoguang Reign, the sense of Hakka identity surfaced and the Hakkas from Hukou, Guanxi and Qionglin, etc. also started to take turns to host the annual ceremony. By the beginning of the Guangxu Reign, adjacent Hakka regions had all completed development and those Hakka folks also joined the event and expanded the rotation of hosting to 14 duty localities. As the host of each year tries to outdo the previous one, the scale of the ceremony increases by the year.

    As the worship circle grows, Hakkas in remote areas have to perform branched-off ceremonies to carry on the belief. Extensions have been built due to migrations of certain people or actual needs. The expansion has turned the Yimin Festival into the most important and the most representative Hakka belief. Its scale and significance has even surpassed those of the Sanshan King, the Hakka guardian deity.