Tuesday June 25, 2019

Night Sky lights up as Taiwan celebrates Lantern Festival

Taiwan celebrates lantern festival with million lanterns in different shapes to mark the 15th day of the first month in the Chinese Calendar

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Lantern Festival, Pixabay

Feb 12, 2017: Millions of lanterns in the shape of Christian churches, Buddhist temples, and Hindu temples with Brahma, Krishna, Lakshmi and Durga lit up the night sky of Taiwan to celebrate the Lantern Festival, marking the 15th day of the first month of the Chinese lunar calendar.

The Lantern Festival was inaugurated on Saturday in Yunlin county in the southwestern part of the island country and will go on till February 19. Thousands of people coming from all over the country as well as tourists participated in the inauguration.

The Taiwan Lantern Festival is a Buddhist tradition coming from mainland China and is celebrated as part of the Chinese New Year.

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“It is a popular festival highlighting our friendly approach and love for the people,” said Eric Lin, Director of International Affairs Division at Taiwan Tourism.

Hosting the festival inauguration for the first time, the Yunlin displayed 3,000 lanterns on a plot of land spread over more than 50 hectares.

“It is the biggest Lantern Festival ever in the history of Taiwan. This year, the theme celebrates the diverse cultures and beliefs of the island,” said Jin, one of the organisers of the festival, working for the Taiwan Ministry of Communication.

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“It has been a tough organisation that took us almost eight months, but the result is amazing. We also had about a dozen of private investors who funded the festival,” she added.

The island, located off the southeastern coast of the Chinese mainland, has an interesting mix of cultures from mainland China as well as Japan, and is home to 16 different tribes.

The origin of the festival is not clear, but it is said that it was started by an emperor of the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD), who was a devout Buddhist and who ordered his people to display lights on the 15th night of the first month of the lunar year to pay respects to Buddha.

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Nowadays, in Taiwan the festival is celebrated in a modern way — the country being known for its high-tech innovations — with electric lanterns, artistic installations, light and sound shows, laser lights etc. (IANS)

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First Same-Sex Couple Ties Knot in Taiwan

Taiwan’s parliament passed a bill last week that endorsed same-sex marriage

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Gay and lesbian newlyweds kiss at a same-sex marriage party after registering their marriages in Taipei, Taiwan, May 24, 2019. VOA

Same-sex couples tied the knot in emotional scenes in Taiwan on Friday, the first legal marriages in Asia hailed by activists as a social revolution for the region. Taiwan’s parliament passed a bill last week that endorsed same-sex marriage.

More than 160 same-sex couples married Friday, according to government data, after years of heated debate over marriage equality that has divided the self-ruled and democratic island.

Twenty couples queued to tie the knot at a marriage registration office in downtown Taipei, where rainbow flags were on display alongside stacks of government-issued, rainbow-themed registration forms.

“I feel very lucky that I can say this out loud to everyone: I am gay and I am getting married,” said Shane Lin, a 31-year-old baker who with his partner were the first couple to register in the Taipei office. “I am extremely proud of my country Taiwan,” said a tearful Lin.

The euphoria and emotion among the island’s gay community was on display as newly-wed couples walked down a rainbow-colored carpet in a nearby park, watched by families and friends as well as diplomats and reporters.

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Gay newlyweds walk on a giant rainbow flag at a same-sex marriage party after registering their marriage in Taipei, Taiwan, May 24, 2019. VOA

‘The right we deserved’

Chi Chia-wei, an activist who brought a case to Taiwan’s constitutional court that led to a landmark court ruling on same-sex marriage in 2017, congratulated the couples.

“This is the right that we deserved from a long time ago,” he said, draped in a giant rainbow flag that symbolizes the colors of the international gay movement.

“As a beacon in Asia, I hope Taiwan’s democracy and human rights could have a ripple effect on other countries in Asia,” he added.

Supporters also celebrated on social media, sharing posts with the rainbow colors of the gay rights movement.

Friday’s celebration followed a years-long tussle over marriage equality that culminated in the 2017 declaration by the constitutional court giving same-sex couples the right to marry, and setting a deadline of May 24 for legislation.

Marriage equality was backed by the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), but the measure could complicate President Tsai Ing-wen’s bid for a second term in elections next year.

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Gay couple Cynical Chick, left, and Li Ying-Chien display the wedding certificate at the Household Registration Office in Shinyi district in Taipei, May 24, 2019. VOA

Conservative groups that oppose same-sex marriage said the legislation disrespected the people’s will.

Same-sex marriage is not recognized by Hong Kong and neighboring China, which regards Taiwan as a wayward province to be returned to the fold by force, if necessary.

It marks another milestone in Taiwan’s development as one of the region’s more liberal societies, in contrast with China’s strongly autocratic government.

ALSO READ: Taiwan’s Parliament Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage, Mass Weddings Planned

Across the strait, many Chinese congratulated Taiwan’s newlywed same-sex couples on platforms such as Weibo, China’s version of Twitter.

“For once I thought the legalization of same-sex marriage in Taiwan would impact on the Chinese government, making them heed our appeals,” one Weibo user said. “But then I found the shock actually makes the government more scared, stepping up their crackdown on us.” (VOA)