2018 年 72 巻 3 号 p. 49-
This report is based on case studies of village religious-ceremony organization in the New Territories (formerly, Xin’an Prefecture), Hong Kong. Comparisons are drawn between similar groups in China and Japan.
Focus is on the structure of large-scale religious ceremonies in the New Territories. Every five or ten years, eighty percent of the villages carry out ceremonies that can extend for a week. They are called ‘Great Peace Purification Sacrifices’ 太平清醮. Entire villages participate, groups of Daoist priests and troupes of actors are invited, and activities are performed day and night for anywhere from three days (and four nights) to six days (and seven nights). To console the spirits and gods, courtesies are extended, offerings presented, and plays performed on their behalf.
A distinguishing feature of the ‘Great Peace Purification Sacrifice’ is the way that the names of all clan members are repeatedly read aloud, one by one. At the shortest of ceremonies (three days and four nights), the recitation can be repeated a halfdozen times or more.
The sequence is as follows:
‘First Submission to the Gods’: For the first day, during the third lunar month, certain formalities are carried out in preparation for the ceremonies proper. Facing away from the village temple and directing themselves to the gods above, Daoist priests read aloud the names of clan members from the entire village, calling out the names that have been recorded for submission: heads of households, their wives and concubines, unmarried brothers and sisters, married sons, daughters-in-law, unmarried children, grandsons and their wives, unmarried grandsons, granddaughters, great grandsons and their wives, and so on. But women’s first names are neither recorded nor read aloud. As there are cases of more than two hundred names, and since the calling out of the names can be lengthy, the task of reading aloud is divided among the priests.
‘Second Submission’: On the second preparatory day, in the middle of the eighth lunar month, the same formalities are carried out.
‘Third Submission’: The beginning of the tenth lunar month marks the first day of the ceremonies proper. Prior to the performance of sacrifices, clan names are read aloud before the temple a third time, again by multiple priests.
‘Opening Announcement’: Over the beginning of the same month, the list of village members is posted on the public-square bulletin board. Inscribed in black calligraphy on large red paper, it can be as wide as six feet. Daoist priests again divide up the task of reading aloud the names.
‘Inviting the Gods’: On a night during the first ten days of the month, after they invite the highest gods from heaven, one of the Daoist priests reads aloud the roster of villager names.
‘Begging Pardon’: On the last day of the religious ceremony, again during the first third of the tenth lunar month, a Daoist priest reads aloud the list of villager names inscribed in vermilion ink on yellow paper three-feet wide. The document reports to heaven that villagers, having unintentionally committed sins, beg the gods’ pardon.
In addition, the head-worshipper of the village often carries the community roster and accompanies the Daoist priests while the latter perform prayer ceremonies and make a ‘circuit’ to pay respects to the gods. Although villagers do not read aloud names on the roster, they always have clearly in mind that everyone in the village is participating.
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