Hong Kong’s iconic bun scrambling competition was held on Cheung Chau on Friday – a public holiday for Buddha’s Birthday.
It is the first time the Jiao Festival and bun scramble have been held in three years owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Other celebrations included a kung fu show, and “Piu Sik,” which translates to “Floating Colours,” where children in fancy dress are held up on towering poles and paraded through the winding streets of the outlying island.
Traditionally, they dress up in satirical costumes, mimicking top officials, such as the chief executive. This year, some were spotted dressed as finance chief Paul Chan, and lawmakers Alice Mak and Regina Ip.
According to RTHK, Sun Ferry said that 43,000 people had flocked to the island by 8pm.
The day culminated in a late-night scramble by competitors up a precipitous 18-metre “bun tower” made from imitation buns.
Chung Yuk-chuen won the men’s race with 954 marks, whilst Wong Ka-yan was the women’s event champion.
The “Full Pockets of Lucky Buns” race winner was Lai Wai-chun who collected 121 buns.
According to the Hong Kong Intangible Cultural Heritage Database, the Jiao Festival has been practised for over a century.
“Legends say that Cheung Chau was devastated by a plague in the late Qing dynasty. To dispel the disaster, Huizhou and Chiu Chow natives invited accomplished monks and Taoist priests and set up a sacrificial altar in front of Pak Tai Temple to pray to deities, repent and to comfort departed souls from the land and the sea,” the database said.
Following the the plague, “residents on Cheung Chau have been organising the annual Jiao Festival to express gratitude to Pak Tai for blessing the area with peace,” the website says.
Three, traditional 12-metre high “bun mountain” installations did not appear at the festival, as usual. Instead, three shorter, 4.5-metre installations were placed in front of banners, Tai Ping Qing Jiao organising committee chair Yung Chi-ming told HKFP on Monday. He added that their contractor did not have enough staff to deliver.
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