September 24, 2009

Sky Lantern

「放天燈」是台灣代表性的文化節慶活動之一,每年元宵節,也就是農曆正月十五日這一天,台北縣平溪鄉湧入了近十萬的人潮,為的就是體驗放天燈及一睹天燈齊飛之美。

“Releasing Sky Lantern” represents one of the traditional culture festivals in Taiwan. The 15th of the first month of Lunar New Year is “Lantern Festival. There are almost a hundred thousand people coming to Pingsi Township in Taipei County on that day to experience and see the beauty of sky lantern.

天燈又名「孔明燈」,相傳為三國時代諸葛亮首創。當時為了軍情通信的需要,利用熱氣流上升的原理,製成燈盞傳遞軍情。平溪天燈的施放傳統,據說起源於清朝道光年間。當時先民由大陸福建惠安、安溪渡海至平溪開墾,由於山區經常有盜匪作亂,平溪人只好躲入山中避難,待時局穩定後才由村中留守的壯丁,施放天燈做為通信,通知村民返鄉。因此放天燈成了平安的象徵,一直流傳至今,成為地方民俗活動。

Sky Lantern is also named as “Kongming Deng", known to be invented by the sage and military strategist Chuger Liang during the Three Kingdoms era. It was developed as the signal balloon for the purpose of military communication. The flame heat inside the air balloon makes it rise into the air. The Pingsi sky lantern was known to start from Ching Dynasty. The ancestors came to Pingsi for farming from Fujian Province, China. Due to the bandit wars, Pingsi village residents had to hide themselves in the mountains until they saw lanterns from the villages to signal all was safe to return to the village. Because of this, sky lantern has become the symbol of peace; it became a local traditional event.

天燈的結構可分主體與支架兩個部份,主體是用棉紙或宣紙黏合而成,而支架則是用竹片與鐵絲組成。天燈底層的支架中間,綁上了數張沾有煤油的金紙,施放的時候,需要由二至三人通力合作,先將天燈接近地面拉開,點燃後待其燃燒數秒,產生的熱空氣會將天燈充飽膨脹,這時只要雙手一放,天燈自然就會升空。

The structure of the sky lantern has the main body and frame. The main body is pasted together by rice paper, and the frame is built with bamboo sticks and iron wires. The bottom of the frame is tightened with a few flammable papers. It needs 2-3 persons to hold the lantern, when it is lit; the flame heats the air inside the lantern until it is full. Then the lantern will rise into the sky once the hands are released.

集體施放天燈的活動,是平溪鄉的年度大事。雖說活動從傍晚六點半開始,但四點半抵達會場時,就己經是滿滿了人潮。台灣各地攝影好手早早就抵現場,佔個好位置,以搶得先機。

Releasing sky lanterns is the major yearly event in Pingsi Township. Although the event starts at 6:30 pm, the crowd has already moved in at 4:30pm. All the photographers arrived earlier in order to get the good spots.

每年波放的次數不一樣,約莫十至十二波。每一波天燈,都由一至二百人共同施放,而每一次的主燈所祈福的主題也不一樣。

註:主燈尺寸比一般天燈大很多,由活動主辦單位帶領施放。

The times to release the sky lantern are different each year. There are about 10-12 times. Each time is conducted by 100-200 people. The theme of the main lantern is also different every year.

PS: The main lantern is larger than regular lanterns, so it is released by the event host.

放天燈的活動進行的程序是這樣的:

1. 首先,由義工就定位一字排開,然後義工再輕甩天燈將其撐開。

2. 接著,民眾兩兩一組進場,依序到指定位置,接過天燈。

3. 民眾各自寫下祈福內容。

4. 晚會來賓在主燈上寫下祈福內容,然後點火。

5. 等主燈膨脹到一定大小時(因為主燈很大,所以需要較長時間),這時拿著瓦斯噴槍的義工(一排一個),就一一將民眾的天燈點燃。

6.待天燈膨脹到一定大小,並且開始浮起時,大夥再同時放手,讓天燈升天。

The process of releasing sky lantern event is:

1.The volunteers line up to open up the lanterns gently.

2.Two people as a group get ready on its spot and take over the sky lantern.

3.Participants write their wishes on the lanterns.

4.The VIP guests of the evening write the wishes on the main lantern. The main lantern will start to light.

5.Until the main lantern expands to almost full (due to the huge size, it will take a while), the volunteers will light the rest of the lanterns one row at a time with the gas gun.

6.Until all lanterns expand fully and start to rise, all lanterns will be hand released and rise to the sky at the same time.

在主辦單位的一聲令下,所有天燈一起冉冉升空,滿載著希望與夢想緩緩迎向黑夜。滿天璀璨、壯闊祥和的美景,讓在場的每一個人都感動萬分、讚嘆連連。如果能在元宵節時刻來到台灣,不妨到平溪,欣賞這個傳承已有百年歷史的在地習俗。

With the order from the event host, all lanterns were released to the sky at the same time carrying with participants’ wishes and dream. The sky was full of and brightened with peace signs touching all participants’ hearts. If you come to Taiwan during Lunar New Year, please come to Pingsi for this hundred year old local tradition! Read More

9 comments:

Neil Wade said...

Awesome! I went to this event a few years ago and it was really something special!

micki and kristen said...

Hi, Neil, thanks for your reply in your blog!!
:) :)

Anonymous said...

The view is certainly very romantic. But Since I am a curious and practical person, my question is: What happened after that? Do people track down where the lanterns finally land? Do they retrive them back? If not, what's impact to the environment? -Teresa

Kristen and Micki said...

We had the same concern as well. We found out that workers tracked down and pick up the remaining bamboo frames for recycling. The rice paper would be gone after it was burned. The only remaining might affect the environment would be the wires that left in the mountains. Government was aware of the impact on the environment from the lanterns, that’s why they set the limit of the amount of lanterns that could be released each time. Pingsi is the only place that is allowed to release the sky lantern yearly because of the location, weather, and the nearby fire department. This is the dilemma of keeping the traditional cultural events and protecting the environment…

Rafael Lam said...

很美, 一直想去看看! ^.^
Thanks for introduce it!

kristen and micki said...

Hi, Rafael
在現場觀看一,二百個天燈齊升,真的非常很感動哦!
另,台灣的元宵節快到了,2/16~3/7平溪舉辦了一連串的相關活動,最熱鬧的放天燈活動就是2/28及3/6.不知你有沒有機會來體驗呢?

Rafael Lam said...

很可惜沒有假期去現場體驗天燈活動, 妳有沒有去拍照片?

Micki & Kristen said...

hi, Rafael,
這次的元宵節我沒去看天燈,但我有去看台北燈節,不過,今年主燈不在台北,感覺上沒很盛大,就是去人擠人,感受一下節慶氣氛而已囉!

kristen and micki

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