In every country there are customs which have their own traditional significances and even though the times progress, the enthusiasm towards these never decrease. An example of one such custom and festival is the Sky Lantern Festival of Taiwan which now attracts many tourists to Taiwan on the specific days when the sky becomes a sea of light.
In the current times the initiative to celebrate the Sky Lantern Festival is taken by the Tourism sector of Taiwan; however, this celebration happens in some parts of Taiwan from very early times. The initiation of the Sky Lantern Festival is known to have started from the small mountain district of Pingxi where during the wars sky lanterns were released in the sky as a means of communication. There are others version also as per which the process of releasing sky lanterns was also connected to drive away evil. It was also known to be a practise of the farmers who celebrated the coming of spring and the increased stay of daylight. Though, the explanations for the Sky Lantern Festival vary but, the time of celebration remains constant.
The Sky Lantern Festival is celebrated on the 15th Day of the starting month of the Lunar Calendar in a Chinese New Year. This is usually a full moon night when at least 1000 paper lantern are released in the sky. This time, as per the normal calendar, is between the months of January and February. While in some districts of Taiwan Sky Lanterns are floated there are other where firecracker ceremonies take place. The Sky Lanterns are made of a bamboo structure which is covered by thin rice papers which are oiled. The wicks inside the lanterns are made with paper balls that are soaked in kerosene. The moment the paper balls are ignited, the hot air of the flame sends the lantern in the air. These days, before releasing the lanterns in the sky people write their names and wishes on the covering paper too.
The government initiative for holding the Sky Lantern Festival started from 1990. Initially the event used to take place in the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial park of Taipei but now, the venues of the event keep changing. Apart from the Sky Lantern festival there are a number of other interesting festivals too which happen in Taiwan during this time. Amongst the Sky Lantern, there are some big lanterns which are normally of the shape of Chinese astrological zodiac symbols. The event starts with the release of these which are followed by numerous small ones which are carried by children, tourists, and also general adults. Many of these small ones are also made in the form of figures or have images on them.
Such is the popularity of the Sky Lantern Festival that it has been covered by renowned media sources like BBC as well. Deemed as one of the most beautiful festivals across the world, the total number of tourists who visit Taiwan during the time of the Sky Lantern Festival is nearly ten thousand or more.