Temple Fair, also known as Miaohui, is a traditional folk activity in China. The fair is usually held at temples or adjacent to them, so it is named “Temple Fair”. Temple Fair is originally formed by vendors who set up their shops and sold their goods to people who journeyed to the temples during traditional festivals. It gradually becomes a kind of cultural gathering where people worship gods, pray for the blessing and have fun.
Temple Fair originated from religious activities. Some believe that Temple Fair benefited from the opposition between Buddhism and Taoism, two major religions of China which were in full swing during the Tang and Song Dynasties. Their contention mainly focused on building more temples and attracting more followers. Temple Fair began as groups of vendors who did business near temples when many pilgrims came to pay tribute to the gods during traditional festivals.
The gradual secularization of religious activities not only helped popularize Taoism and Buddhism, it has also encouraged commercial dealings among the collective activities. As the practice grew, Temple Fair gradually turned into a regular event and evolved into a place where people gathered for various kinds of folk performances and trading.
Nowadays Temple Fair is an important and joyful destination for Chinese people during festivals, most especially the Spring Festival. Though the original religious intention of Miaohui has weakened somewhat, it still tends to be held in or around temples, monasteries and other religious shrines, which keep attracting disciples and lay people alike. Temple Fair has changed in form and different fairs have assumed different themes.
Wonders to Witness
Most temple fairs feature dragon and lion dances, waist drum dancing, lotus blossom fairy dances, ground and clam dancing as well as other folk performances, and some even stage traditional wedding ceremonies.
In traditional temple fairs, there are performances and booths demonstrating and selling traditional arts and handicrafts. Temple Fair also offers you numerous kinds of tasty local food, various snacks and other dishes.