Saturday, November 28, 2009

Legend of Mid Autumn Festival

On the 15th day of the 8th month of the Chinese calendar every year, Mid-Autumn Festival (Zhong Qiu Jie) or what some called as Moon cake Festival or Lantern festival is being celebrated. On this very day, it will always be of a full moon without fail! The Moon on this very night will be always very big, bright and round. If you were looking at the moon, you will see some images. What most people would see would be either a Maiden or a Rabbit! Very few people will see a toad! You should not see any other images than these 3 images. There is an explanation in fact to why it can only be one of those 3 images. There are however several versions of this story and henceforth many arguments as a result. It has been said that each provinces of China has their own individual versions. The story that I know when I was a kid is as follows:

10 Sun(s)
It was said that there was once 10 suns. Everyday, each sun will take its turn to appear during the day. However one day, all of them decided to appear together at the same time. This in turn was very bad for mother earth. The lands became dry, waters were dry up too, and much living things died of dehydration.

A Hero
The people called out for a hero and their call was answered. This hero was by the name of Hou Yi! He was an extraordinary archer with exceptional archery skills. At the mountains of Kunlun, with his arrows, he shot down the suns one at a time but spared the last one.

Hero to King
For saving the world and the human race, the locals made Hou Yi their King. Initially he rejected them but the people were too persistent and sincere into pushing him as their king and they were successful eventually in doing so. As time went by, power and authority as the king had Hou Yi gradually turned into an absolute tyrant! He people suffered a lot under his rule. This king had a wife who was none other than Chang E. She was a lady with a very kind, warm, loving and pure heart. They people loved her very much.

Hou Yi gradually had fears and worries of death as he is after all still a human. He soon began his quest in the search of gaining immortality. In the process of it, he transformed from a loving husband into a wife abuser and beater as well as becoming even more tyranny as a king. Eventually a servant of his told him that up in the mountains lived the queen mother of west and that she had the pill of elixir that could give him immortality. Hou Yi rode off to the mountains to seek for this pill of elixir. The Queen mother of the west eventually agreed to give him this pill of elixir. Hou Yi feared that the Elixir would be stolen away from him during his journey back home; hence he transferred the elixir into another bottle resembling poison. Chang E was having a tour of Hou Yi’s kingdom during Hou Yi’s absence, this gave the people their chance which they have been waiting to address their sufferings to their beloved queen, Chang E. Seeing how much the people had suffered with her own eyes under the tyrannical rule of Hou Yi, and she was very upset and disappointed. When Hou Yi came home and places his belongings onto the table of their room. Chang E decided to persuade him to repent and end his tyrannical doings. This resulted in a heated argument and she was badly beaten by Hou Yi. Chang E saw the poison on the table and she felt sad, knowing that she could neither changed him or to do anything for the citizens that she loved, did she decide to take the poison to end her life. At once, all of her injuries recovered! She found herself lighter than air itself. Unknowingly next, she found herself floating.

Fly Me to the Moon
Hou Yi wanted to stop her and tried everything that he could such as grabbing hold of his wife but he attempts were to no avail. As he saw her drifting into the air towards the moon, he wanted to shoot her down with his arrows but found himself not able to bring himself to shoot her down as he still loves her very much. At this point of time, he finally knelt down before his wife and cried out loud asking for her to come back to him and don't leave him alone behind. In deep remorse, he vowed to her promising that he will mean his ways and repent. Though it was a little too late however, Hou Yi did keep to his words indeed repented.

The Death of Hou Yi
One day during a hunting trip, his best disciple Feng Meng challenge him in archery and lost to his master. Feng Meng was a person who with a narrow heart and had also been jealous of Hou Yi all along. He finally had Hou Yi murdered in cold blood when his back was facing him. Feng Meng had his master, Hou Yi back stabbed to death.

The Moon and the Festival
There were some witnesses who witness this event and saw Chang E floating into the moon. That very night it was 15th day of the 8th month in the Chinese calendar and it was a bright full moon. There were some occupants in the moon. There was Wu Gang the woodcutter who was being punished by his teacher to chop a particular tree in the moon. There was also Yue Lao, the match maker god. Chang E became a moon goddess and lived in the Moon Palace with 2 Jade Rabbits accompanying her. During every night, Chang E as the moon goddess would bless her people. Her people and devotees would worship her and Yue Lao whenever there is a full moon. Henceforth every year during the 15th day of the 8th month, mid-autumn festival is being celebrated since then. Some of the Cantonese people would pray to her for peace and blessings, perhaps harmony as well during this festival. That would be why you would see either a maiden or a rabbit in the usual case. It is either Chang E that you would see or the Jade Rabbit in the moon.


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