We showed our boss the video we took (he doesn’t live in the neighbourhood) and got his take on it. He’s not all that respectful of the local temples, as he sees them primarily as ‘religious businesses’ that seek profit from a market niche just like any other business. To him this whole thing was just as much fundraiser as it was religious event, though he also conceded that these people were serious.
Anyway, apparently some local deity was having a birthday party in the street the night before our term papers were due, complete with live Chinese horn/gong ensemble, possessed costumed dancers, and a self-lacerating swordsman (who was also supposed to be possessed). There were at least two tour buses parked near the temple; many of the faithful had apparently traveled some distance for the event. Now that my grad schoolwork is done until June, I might actually get back to my cultural research and get a clue or two for stuff like this.
Our video is mediocre; we were on the periphery of the crowd at the back on narrow side streets and didn’t get the most colourful stuff on camera. But you’ll still get an eyeful (and an earfull).
If I ever get these edited and spliced (with three other clips) into something more manageable, I’ll stick it up on the video page, but consider these files temporarily-available windows into our cultural adventures… for a limited time only!