As if one needed to come up with a good excuse to visit one of the world’s most dynamic and culturally rich cities in the world, Hong Kong seems to be pulling out all the stops at the end of May with three festivities that promise to delight. Hear the gongs! Smell the incense! Eat the buns!
The Cheung Chau Bun Festival
Cheung Chau Island, Hong Kong
The weeklong Cheung Chau Bun Festival on tiny Cheung Chau Island, includes Taoist ceremonies, a vibrant parade, lion dances, drum beating and a not-to-be-missed Bun Scrambling event with a gigantic 14 metee tower made out of 9,000 buns! Throngs of folks come from across the globe pack onto this little speck of land to take part in this uniquely fun festival.
The Birthday of the Buddha
The Birthday of the Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama), the founder of Buddhism, also called the Buddha Bathing Festival, is one of the most spiritual and significant festivals celebrated in Hong Kong and across East Asia. According to legend, nine dragons sprayed water to bathe the baby Buddha when he was born. To commemorate this act, Buddhist temples throughout Hong Kong welcome devotees to pay their respects by bathing statues of the Buddha in bowls of water. The ritual is believed to aid in the purification of one’s soul. One of the grandest ceremonies is held at the Po Lin Monastery on Lantau Island, home of “the Big Buddha.”
Birthday of Tam Kung
Patron deity of fishermen, Tam Kung has long been revered among people in local fishing communities. However, the worship of this deity is unique to Hong Kong. One of the principal events of this festival takes place at one of Hong Kong’s most impressive and oldest Tam Kung temples, located in Shau Kei Wan.
The temple was built in 1905 and reconstructed in 2002, with the original design carefully preserved. Inside you’ll find an iron bell and a stone tablet dating back to the construction of the temple. This May, devotees will mark his birthday with an array of ceremonies, including traditional dragon and lion dances and a street parade.