Dan Fan Dan (擔飯擔) is a tradition over a hundred years old in the village of Dakeng Wei in Taiwan. It started off with only six families and has now grown to an annual event involving the entire 105 families from the village. So much that it was recognised by local city government as a traditional culture event this year. Each family cooks a massive bowl of traditional savoury rice and another dish, and carries them to the village temple in bamboo baskets on their shoulders for everyone to enjoy. The lunch was attended by probably over a thousand people, and the City Mayor who came to award the certification of recognition to the village.
Temples are an integral part of people's life in Taiwan, especially in the rural area and it is customary for the Gods from other temples to visit one another on special occasions. Each of them have their own special carriage for going out, and the large ones needed eight people to carry it. The host temple even put on fire cracker display to welcome their guests.
In the afternoon, there was a series of celebratory performances. This included lion dance and drums from other temples, martial arts performance from the locals, and the famous pole dance often seen at temple events in Taiwan.
As soon as the martial arts performance finished, the villagers all rushed to set up the tables for dinner and very soon we were tucking into freshly cooked home made food again. Dinner included the traditional savoury rice and many different types of soup. Although each family cooks the same traditional rice recipe, they all have slightly different ingredients and flavour, so having it two same meals in a row didn't seem a bore at all. There were slightly less people than lunch and I managed to wander around the tables and tried out four different types of soup including pig trotters, fish balls, fresh bamboo shoots and meatballs, which were all extremely delicious.
Dakeng Wei isn't particularly big, but I loved how everyone got involved in making sure the event was a success. The villagers not only provided the locally sourced ingredients, they also started work early in the morning to prepare the meal. They were exceptionally generous in welcoming everyone including those not from the village to allow people to experience this wonderful event. I'm sure many like myself felt the warmth on one of the coldest day in Taiwan.
This is part of my Revisiting Travels series, a repost of my post that I first posted two years ago