- Title: Holy pigs are presented to gods during controversial Hakka festival in Taiwan
- Date: 27th August 2021
- Summary: TAOYUAN, TAIWAN (AUGUST 27, 2021) (REUTERS) PARADE ARRIVING AT YIMIN TEMPLE IN TAOYUAN HOLY PIG BEING TRANSPORTED TO TEMPLE, FIXED TO METAL RACK ON BACK OF TRUCK HOLY PIG DRAPED ON BACK OF TRUCK, ADORNED WITH TRADITIONAL DECORATION PIG SNOUT HOLDING A PINEAPPLE PARTICIPANTS PREPARING DECORATION REVELLER TAKING PICTURE WITH PHONE PARTICIPANT DRIVING DECORATIVE ITEM INTO SKIN OF DEAD PIG DEAD PIG FIXED TO BACK OF TRUCK WITH DECORATION MOTHER TAKING PICTURES OF HER KIDS POSING IN FRONT OF PIG CARCASS (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) 36-YEAR-OLD TEACHER, CHUNG CHUN-LIANG, SAYING: "I am struggling quite a bit with this, especially we used to see the holy pigs getting killed when we were small, which made us feel quite shocked, to see this kind of images. (Reporter asking: So do you think it's worth continuing this practice?") If it's worth itâ€¦ I think there could be some ways off replacing it, for example I saw them using some food items to symbolise the holy pigs, making a change in this way, I think that's one way to do it." VARIOUS OF DRUMMERS PERFORMING IN FRONT OF HOLY PIGS REVELLERS PASSING BY HOLY PIG HOLY PIG ON BACK OF TRUCK JACKIE SONG, DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF YIMIN TEMPLE, TALKING (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) JACKIE SONG, DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF YIMIN TEMPLE, SAYING: "They (animal rights groups) should have a look, they shouldn't use information from decades ago to talk about the situation right now. It's different now. Because the believers that want to sacrifice holy pigs to the Hakka war heroes with the best intentions don't even insist on feeding the pig to an especially big size, it doesn't need to be that big. There are many good hearted people, including at the Yimin Temple here, the pigs that they enter into the competition are only about a few hundred pounds of weight." HOLY PIG BEING TRANSPORTED TO TEMPLE VARIOUS OF FACE OF HOLY PIG PIGS LINED UP ON TRUCKS IN FRONT OF TEMPLE TAIPEI, TAIWAN (AUGUST 26, 2021) (REUTERS) CHU TSENG-HUNG, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF ENVIRONMENT AND ANIMAL SOCIETY OF TAIWAN, TALKING (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) CHU TSENG-HUNG, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF ENVIRONMENT AND ANIMAL SOCIETY OF TAIWAN, SAYING: "To make the pigs that heavy they (the raisers) have to keep them from exercising, without much movement and lots of food. So they devised a special method to raise the pigs, constraining them in a small cage so that they have no way of moving. They can only open their mouth to eat, and then there is force feeding. Because of the exaggerated weight, you have to pull and push the pigs around with a lot of people in order to move them, sometimes also using a crane. When it comes to slaughtering the pigs, (because the pigs are so fat) they are also unable to use ethical ways of first letting them lose conscience to then slash their throats. So they are miserable from birth to death, those are the only reasons why we oppose this practice." CHU POINTING AT COMPUTER SCREEN
- Embargoed: 10th September 2021 17:01
- Keywords: Hakka festival Taipei Taiwan holy pigs
- Location: TAOYUAN, TAIPEI, TAIWAN
- City: TAOYUAN, TAIPEI, TAIWAN
- Country: Taiwan
- Topics: Asia / Pacific
- Reuters ID: LVA001ES20APX
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:An annual festival celebrating 'holy' pigs was staged in Taiwan on Friday (August 27) despite concerns over allegations of cruelty towards the animals by activists.
The pigs are tributes to deceased Hakka war heroes at Taoyuan's Yimin Temple, marking the Qing Dynasty in China, when Hakka militia men struggled to protect their families from hostile forces.
Those ancestors are celebrated in the pig festival each year as part of the so-called ghost month, a time to pay respect to deceased ancestors in Taiwan.
This year, the event was more subdued because of COVID-19 concerns, with only the ten winners of the competition - out of the more than twenty contestants that originally registered their pigs for the competition - allowed to bring their pigs to temple premises.
The pigs can grow up to five times the size of normal pigs, being force-fed over two years to provide ancestors with huge sacrifices.
Hakkas are a cultural sub-group of the Han Chinese, originating from southern China, which also emigrated throughout Asia and are represented in large numbers in Taiwan.
Chung Chun-liang who brought her children to the temple to witness their native Hakka culture, had mixed feelings about the practice.
"I am struggling quite a bit with this, especially we used to see the holy pigs getting killed when we were small, which made us feel quite shocked, to see this kind of images," she said, adding there could be ways to replace the practice while still respecting the ancestors.
The practice has drawn flak from animal rights groups over the years.
"They (the breeders) devised a special method to raise the pigs, constraining them in a small cage so that they have no way of moving. They can only open their mouth to eat, and then there is force feeding," said Chu Tseng-hung, executive director of Environment and Animal society of Taiwan (EAST), an animal rights group.
Temple officials deny this, urging animal groups to stop reiterating the same claims based on information from decades ago.
"It's different now. Because the believers that want to sacrifice holy pigs to the Hakka war heroes with the best intentions don't even insist on feeding the pig to an especially big size, it doesn't need to be that big," one official told Reuters.
According to Chu from EAST, the practice of force feeding the pigs to grow to exaggerated sizes has only developed starting 40 to 50 years ago. Before that, holy pigs used to be "only slightly bigger" than their normal peers.
(Production: Fabian Hamacher)
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
- Copyright Notice: (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2021. Open For Restrictions - http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None