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Aug

Hengchun pole climbing

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  • Hengchun pole climbing
  • 恆春搶孤

Pole climbing is a folk customs that take place during Ghost Festival every year and has a history of several hundred years. The origin can be traced back to when the rich people of Hengchun, once one of Taiwan’s most prosperous towns, allowed poor people to take their offerings. In the rush to grab them every year there would be fights and injuries. In the 5th year of the reign of Emperor Guangxu (1880) someone came up with the idea of erecting a pole with the offerings going to whoever climbed up the fastest and this practice continues to this day. The pole climbing takes place every year in the square in front of Hengchun’s Fude Temple. The pudu universal salvation ceremony is usually held in the afternoon and the pole climbing takes place at a time indicated by the Daoist priest, usually starting at around 8pm. The highlight of the activity is when competitors climb four 12 meter high greased poles. Every team has 12-15 people. In earlier days competitors came mainly from Hengchun; today teams travel from other cities/counties for the event. When the drums signal the start, competitors from each of the four competing teams climb the greased poles trying to grab the flag at the top. It takes a substantial amount of skill and strength to climb the greased pole. This pole climbing activity has become one of Taiwan's main Ghost Festival events, attracts thousands of spectators and creates a grand spectacle each year.

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