President Tsai attends Hakka ceremonial worship in Hsinchu

President Tsai Ing-wen lauded Taiwans Hakka ancestors for their loyalty and bravery in defending the homeland when she addressed a ceremony in observance of Hakka Yimin Festival at Baozhong Yimin Temple (褒忠義民廟) in Hsinchu County on Sept. 7.

Accompanied by Premier Su Tseng-chang and Hakka Affairs Council (HAC) Minister Yiong Con-ziin, the president attended the ceremony kicking off one of the twelve traditional Hakka festivals in the country, a three-day event that aims to promote the spirit of Yimin, a collective phrase for Hakka martyrs who sacrificed their lives to defend their homeland in the past.

The annual event, an over-180-year tradition, is held on the 20th day in the seventh lunar month at Baozhong Yimin Temple, which was founded in Hsinchu’s Xinpu Township in 1790 and is the religious center for the Hakka settlements in northern Taiwan.

Delivering her speech in the fluent Hakka language, Tsai said that, on this important occasion, “we should always remember the heroic sacrifice made by these martyrs because we could not live a happy life on this beautiful land without their fearless devotion.” She added that Yimin’s loyalty and bravery truly represent the spirit of Taiwan.

Tsai noted that, under the collaboration between the central and local governments, Hakka Yimin Festival has become one of the biggest national festivals and was first recognized officially as an intangible Hakka cultural asset by the Ministry of Culture in 2015.

Tsai concluded her speech by encouraging Hakka people in the nation, as the Yimin’s offspring, to be devoted and confident.

HAC Minister Yiong said that, apart from the Hakka fighters, the ceremony was also paying respects to the fallen warriors from the Hoklo and indigenous communities who protected the homeland at the expense of their lives.

Yiong added that, as a Hakka religious belief, the Yimin festival has turned into a national commemoration since President Tsai has attended the ceremony many times, noting that the Yimin Temple is literally an unofficial martyrs’ shrine.

A series of religious rituals and festivities are taking place in the townships of Beipu, Emei, and Baoshan during the festival.