When it comes to temples devoted to springtime offerings in hope of a good year to come, the Temple of Heaven is the big daddy, so it makes sense that something would be happening there during Spring Festival. Yesterday a Chinese friend sent me a text message advising me that they have performances of some kind at 10:00 and 13:00. 10:00 seemed a little too early for a holiday morning, so I opted for the afternoon show.
Tiantan (天坛) was decorated with colorful banners, and there were lots of people dancing in the open areas.
The main temple itself looks as impressive as ever.
Lots of people everywhere, including the altar mound.
At a bit after one I made my way back toward the main temple, not completely sure where the show was taking place. The central part of the path was roped off and a crowd was gathering. I joined them, early enough to get a good viewing position.
After a while, we started to see colorful banners making their way down from the temple area.
The crowd gathered closer, and I, not being quite so pushy or rude as many others, found myself shoved further from the security line and close pressed on all sides. I felt sorry for the two tiny old ladies near me that suddenly found themselves with views of nothing but the backs of taller young people who squeezed in front of them. I considered what my Chinese vocabulary would enable me to say if anyone should apologize (like “I expect this kind of rudeness”), but the situation never arose.
Music started playing over the loudspeakers, and there was some kind of narration in Chinese that I could make out very little of aside from the frequent use of the word 皇帝 huangdi (emperor).
I have lots of pictures that feature parts of people’s heads in the foreground.
The guy in the modern style red coat was directing the performers from so close that he became an anachronistic part of the show.
As the procession made its way slowly closer, the police started moving people in my area to the sides. There was much confusion and shoving as the security line was moved so the performers could pass through the area where we had been standing.
Well, at least it allowed me to get some closer pictures as they marched past.
There were many groups of men in different costumes.
Many different kinds of banners went by.
And then it was done, and the crowd that had seen the part of the show up in the main temple area started flooding the thoroughfare.
I suspect I probably missed the most interesting part of the whole show, but still it was nice to see.
After that, I wanted something a on little smaller scale, so I made my way to Dongyue (东岳) temple, which is not far from where I live. I’ve visited this place before, not long after I first came to Beijing. You can check out those pictures to see what it looks like on a normal day.
There were a bunch of vendors with tents set up outside the temple entrance.
This guy has a wide variety of dried fruits and nuts.
This guy was using a big mallet to mash something (probably rice) into a treat.
And this guy was selling completely legitimate (of course!) DVDs and games.
I paid my ¥10 and went in.
The place was decked out in red, and there were also people selling things inside. Dongyue is no longer really a functioning religious site – it’s officially a “cultural museum” now – but people still make offerings of incense and prayer ribbons.
You can also have a go at the old-fashioned grinding wheel.
Or more modern activities...
Here is the official slogan for the occasion:
Inheriting Folk Culture – Promoting National Spirits
And here I finally found one of the other attractions of a Chinese festival.
I finally got my yang rou chuanr (羊肉串 mutton on a stick). Add some sweet potato chips, and I was a happy festival-goer. Tired too.