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Towers of buns, children suspended in the air, loud gongs and a vegetarian Mc Donalds - these are just some of the things you will see and hear in May on this island. Cheng Chau is an island off Hong Kong renowned for it's annual bun festival. Cheng Chau 長洲, means "Long Island" and is also nicknamed dumbbell island for it's shape.
Thanks to Wikimedia commons -Laszlo Ilyes photographer
Pak Tai, the God of Water and Spirit of the North, leads the procession. Children dressed as mythological creatures glide above the crowd in the parade. The sound of musicians loudly beating gongs and drums to scare away evil spirits fills the air.
A tower of pink and white steamed buns filled with lotus paste are placed on 3 bamboo towers outside the Pak Tai Temple. There are bun scrambling and bun snatching competitions to add to the festivities.
'At midnight tonight, teams of contestants will scramble up 5 story tall towers, literally covered with steamed, bean-filled buns. Whoever collects the most buns from the tower walls, wins. What a hoot! My bet is on the "home team." from Laszlo Ilyes photographer
This video shows theparade, and finale of grand exorcism; also the strange bun scrambling contest.
Junks and sampans at anchor in Cheung Chau in 1898
The red island on this map is Cheng Chau
Cheung chau is a 30 to 45 minutes ferry rIde from HK central
The Cheung Chau Bun Festival is a traditional Chinese festival held on the island of Cheng Chau off Hong Kong every year to mark the Eighth day of the Fourth Moon, in the Chinese calendar - usually in early May.
It coincides with the local celebration of Buddha's Birthday.
Building the giant tower that will be covered in buns.
Photo of Cheung Chau Bun Festival, 1961.
The Cheung Chau Bun Festival began way back in the Qing Dynasty as a ritual for fishing communities to pray for safety and make amends with the spirit world.
Guanyin, representing Infinite Compassion and Mercy, sitting in a lotus position. Just one of the 4 dieties associated with the festival. Painted and gilded wood. China. Song/Jin period, late 13th century.
The island has white sandy swimming beaches, seafood cafes, and traditional Chinese culture. Tung Wan Beach, near the ferry, is the most popular beach in Cheung Chau. Quieter and more beautiful beaches around the island include Kwan-yin Wan Beach and Tung Wan Tsai beach.