|This article does not cite any references or sources. (September 2013)|
Location in Tainan
|Country||Republic of China (Taiwan)|
|• Total||52.25 km2 (20.17 sq mi)|
|Population (April 2008)|
Yanshui District, also known as Yansheui Township (Traditional Chinese: 鹽水區; literally "salt-water town") is the name of a town in Tainan City of southern Taiwan, which is famous for its notoriously dangerous fireworks festival. The annual event commemorates a cholera epidemic more than a century ago, the fireworks symbolizing the exorcism of demons associated with the plague. The festival, known as Feng Pao, is celebrated on the 15th day after the beginning of the Lunar New Year, also called Shang Yuan Festival.
It is said that the Fireworks Festival originated from a cholera epidemic which broke out in the early ruling period of Kuanghsu Emperor of Ching Dynasty (around 1875) and lasted for more than twenty years.
In order to drive out the evil spirits and ward off the disease, the survivors invited the spirit of Kuan Kung (Kuan Ti), the Chinese god of war. Kuan Kung is worshipped as the God of War; since he was adept at managing finances, he is also worshipped as the patron saint of businessmen.
The deities of Heaven are able to inspect the land on the day of Lantern Festival by carrying the statue of Kuan Kung in palanquins and paraded around Yanshui and letting off masses of firecrackers, and the epidemic soon receded.
The most important of Yanshui's prominent fireworks are the so-called "bee hives", essentially multiple launchers of bottle rockets. These rocket forts are actually thousands of bottle rockets arranged row atop row in an iron-and-wooden framework. The setup looks like a beehive full of unleashed gunpowder. When the contraption is ignited, rockets shoot out rapidly in all directions. Dazzling explosives whiz and whirl across the sky and often into the crowd itself, both thrilling and intimidating the spectators.
Spectators have been wounded by rocketing fireworks while standing too close to the erupting hive. However, the festival is still held, despite moves to ban it.
To protect against injury, heavy clothing, a helmet with a full visor, and protective gloves are recommended for all spectators. A towel is also advised to be worn around the neck because many can temporarily lose their hearing if a stray rocket goes inside their helmet.
Yanshui used to be one of the five most important maritime towns in Taiwan, but it has declined since the harbor was closed in 1900. These days it is best known for the fireworks festival held 15 days after Lunar New Year.
Presently, there are no rail links to Yanshui. In the past, however, the Taiwan Sugar Corporation operated passenger services in Yanshui station, which have been preserved.
- Yanshui District (Chinese)