Hollywood movie star Hugh Jackman visits Hong Kong during Mid-Autumn Festival to promote his latest film, “Pan”. The ‘meet the fan’ session at the Times Square, Causeway Bay. “I love this city, I’ve been here three or four times now and the people are always so friendly and the food is out of this world,” he said.
Hugh Jackman also took part in the traditional Mid-Autumn Festival fire dragon dance in Tai Hang – the first time an international star has joined in the historic event.
In the 19th century, the people of Tai Hang began performing a dragon dance to stop a run of bad luck afflicting their village. More than a century later, their village has been all but swallowed up by Hong Kong’s fast-growing city. But the dragon keeps on dancing. It has even danced its way onto China’s third national list of intangible cultural heritage.
All this started a few days before the Mid-Autumn Festival, sometime around 100 years ago. First a typhoon slammed into the fishing and farming community of Tai Hang. This was followed by a plague, and then when a python ate the villagers’ livestock, they said enough was enough. A soothsayer decreed the only way to stop the chaos was to stage a fire dance for three days and nights during the upcoming festival. The villagers made a huge dragon from straw and covered it with incense sticks, which they then lit. Accompanied by drummers and erupting firecrackers, they did what they were told and danced for three days and three nights – and the plague disappeared.
Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance
For the three nights straddling the Mid-Autumn festival, visitors can also see the spectacular Tai Hang fire dragon dance. It’s a 67-metre-long ‘fire dragon’ that winds its way with much fanfare and smoke through a collection of streets located in Tai Hang, close to Victoria Park in Causeway Bay. Fire dragon dance started in 1880 when Tai Hang was a small Hakka village of farmers and fishermen on the waterfront of Causeway Bay. This custom has been followed every year since 1880, with the exception of the Japanese Occupation and during the 1967 disturbances.
According to local legend, over a century ago, a few days before the Mid-Autumn Festival, a typhoon and then a plague wreaked havoc on the village. While the villagers were repairing the damage, a python entered the village and ate their livestock. According to some villagers, the python was the son of the Dragon King. A soothsayer decreed the only way to stop the chaos was to stage a fire dance for three days and nights during the upcoming mid-autumn festival. The villagers made a huge dragon of straw and covered it with incense sticks, which they then lit. Accompanied by drummers and erupting firecrackers, they danced for three days and three nights – and the plague disappeared.
It takes nearly 300 performers and over 70,000 incense sticks to put on a three-day performance with a 67-metre dragon, which consists of 32 sections and whose head alone weighs 48kg. It is led by men holding up two ‘pearls’, or pomelos with numerous incense sticks inserted into them.
The Tai Hang fire dragon dance have been added to the third National list of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2011.