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New Taipei hosts 'urban' aboriginal harvest festival

2011/09/18 18:06:14

Taipei, Sept. 18 (CNA) Some 2,500 indigenous people in traditional aboriginal costumes celebrated their most important festival of the year in an urban setting in New Taipei Sunday rather in their more remote villages to thank the gods for a big harvest and prosperity.

Taiwan's 14 officially recognized indigenous tribes all have yearly harvest festivals that last three to seven days each, but the festival held outside New Taipei City Hall, in a compromise with urbanization, was a day-long event.

This unique "urban-style" harvest festival was created to accommodate the many indigenous people who have moved to cities to work, but the ceremonies and spirits still remain unchanged, organizers said.

Although the festival is called "Ilisin," or "harvest festival" in the Amis language and centered around Amis customs, the organizers said the event welcomed indigenous people from other tribes who work in the city.

Beyond preserving traditional indigenous culture, the festival gave people a chance to better understand the culture without having to travel to the tribes' villages in the mountains, organizers said.

"It's pretty much the same," said Kuo Mei-chie, comparing Sunday's festivities with a harvest festival she attended in Hualien County. "But I still prefer the one in Hualien, as the ambiance there was better."

Besides seeing Amis perform songs and dances, visitors were able to taste indigenous dishes and try their sweet but strong liquor. There were also booths in which people could try on indigenous clothes and participate in other interactive activities.

(By James Lee)