Arts, Lifestyle & Events Community & Education SinoBeat

In Pictures: Bare-chested Chinese villagers ‘eat’ sparks during Lunar New Year spectacle

Working themselves into a trance, bare-chested men in eastern China lean into incandescent fountains of sparks to cleanse themselves of evil spirits and ensure a fortuitous new year.

china eating flowers ritual

A man dressed as a local deity performs the “eating flowers” ritual in front of a temple in Xiaohu village, Baitang, in Fujian province on March 8, 2018. Photo: Johannes Eisele/AFP.

The spectacular scene takes place annually in villages such as Xiaohu in coastal Fujian province, which is home to an array of colourful centuries-old Lunar New Year rites linked to ancient customs and local gods.

china eating flowers ritual

This picture taken on March 7, 2018 shows a man dressed as a local deity performing the “eating flowers” ritual in front of a temple in Xiaohu village, Baitang, in Fujian province. Photo: Johannes Eisele/AFP.

Selected devotees allow themselves to be “possessed” by those gods, then chant intonations and blow on horns as they are escorted to the courtyard of Xiaohu’s main temple.

china eating flowers ritual

This picture taken on March 7, 2018 shows a man dressed as a local deity performing the “eating flowers” ritual in front of a temple in Xiaohu village, Baitang, in Fujian province. Photo: Johannes Eisele/AFP.

There, they lean for up to 10 seconds into a spray of bright white sparks shooting upward from fireworks placed on the ground while waving small flags or fans as hundreds of people watch.

china eating flowers ritual

This picture taken on March 7, 2018 shows men dressed as local deities as they perform the “eating flowers” ritual in front of a temple in Xiaohu village, Baitang, in Fujian province. Photo: Johannes Eisele/AFP.

Opening their mouths, they pretend to “eat” the sparks, thus giving the custom its local name, “eating flowers”.

china eating flowers ritual

This picture taken on March 7, 2018 shows men dressed as local deities performing the “eating flowers” ritual in front of a temple in Xiaohu village, Baitang, in Fujian province. Photo: Johannes Eisele/AFP.

The villagers emerge singed and darkened with soot, but off to a clean start to the Year of the Dog, which began on February 16 according to the lunar calendar.

china eating flowers ritual

A man dressed as a local deity performs the “eating flowers” ritual in front of a temple in Xiaohu village, Baitang, in Fujian province on March 8, 2018. Photo: Johannes Eisele/AFP.

“I was very surprised when I first saw it. I didn’t believe it was real. And now I come and watch this every year,” said Fujian resident Chen Guoqiang.


Not-for-profit, run by journalists and completely independent. Contribute to our critical month-long HK$1m Funding Drive, help safeguard our independence and secure our operations for another year. Read how carefully we spend every cent in our Annual/Transparency Report.

2018 hkfp promo (2)

Comments

In Pictures: Bare-chested Chinese villagers 'eat' sparks during Lunar New Year spectacle