Thursday, September 11, 2008

Chinese Moon Festival

Legend of The Moon Goddess and The Moon Festival...

The Moon Festival falls on the 15th of the eighth month every year, of the Chinese lunar calendar.

It is said that on this very special day the moon would appear fullest, and it would shine the brightest. All the maidens of China, both young and old, would pray to the moon goddess to deliver to them the men of their dreams. The maidens would offer moon cakes, cookies, and fruits, and they would also burn incense and candles as a gesture of worshipping the moon goddess, Chang O.

In the Chinese astrology, the moon represents the female, and the sun represents the male. Both the Moon and the Sun represents Yin and Yen. Many believe that the moon goddess, Chang O, possess special power to enrich the lives of lovers on earth.

In a time long long ago, young lady Chang O lived with her father, the Jade Emperor, in heaven where all the good people and the fairies lived. They were all very happy until one day Chang O had accidentally broken a valuable porcelain jar. The Jade Emperor was angry at Chang O’s carelessness and punished her. He sent her down to earth to where the ordinary people lived, and he made a rule that Chang O could only come back to live in heaven if she had contributed some valuable services on earth.

When Chang O came to earth, she was sent to a poor farmer to be one of his family members. As she grew older she became a very beautiful young lady. A skillful hunter, Hou Yi, an expert archer from another village heard about Chang O’s beauty and came to look for her, and soon they became friends.

Life on earth in the village was peaceful, until one day, when the villagers woke up and were surprised to find 10 suns in the sky. The earth became a very warm place. Being the skillful archer he was, Hou Yi stepped forward to save the earth. He skillfully shot down 9 suns, and left one in the sky. He had become the instant hero who had saved the earth. The King had awarded him a respectable rank inside the palace. Shortly afterwards, Hou Yi had become the King’s successor and became the King. He married Chang O.

However, Hou Yi was greedy and immortal. He thought about how good it would be if he could live and enjoy his life forever. He commanded his followers to create a form of medicine that could prolong his life. One day, one of the followers came forward with a pill. He told Hou Yi to hold onto the pill, and warned him not take it until he was told to do so. Hou Yi was very happy to receive the pill and hid it inside a box underneath his pillow.

One day, while Hou Yi was away from the palace, Chang O accidentally found the pill in the box, and wondered what it was. She swallowed the pill purposely. When Hou Yi discovered what his wife had done he flew into a rage. Chang O was frightened by his anger, so she jumped from the chamber’s window to escape, but instead of falling to the ground, she found that she was actually flying up into the sky!

She flew higher and higher, and angry Hou Yi tried to shoot her down with his bow and arrow, but it was in vain. Chang O flew higher and farther away from the earth, and soon she had reached the moon.

The Queen mother of heaven heard about what had happened and punished Chang O. She gave her a rabbit as companion, and a wood cutter to cut the tree of immortality on the moon. She was told that when the tree of immortality is cut down, then Chang O will be allowed to go back to earth to continue on her mission of earning merits for the valuable service in order to go back to heaven.

That was long, long time ago, and still the tree of immortality has not been cut down. Every time Chang O makes a cut, the tree heals itself.

Now, whenever there’s a full moon, if we happen to look up into the sky, we can still see the shape of the tree, and the wood cutter, Chang O, who is still there cutting the wood. Chang O has not been able to come back to earth yet to complete her mission.

The moral of this story: it teaches us not to be greedy, and not to take something that doesn’t belong to us. If Hou Yin had not been greedy about finding a pill that could make him live forever, he would never had gotten the pill; and if Chang O had not purposely swallowed the pill that didn’t belong to her, she would not have to be sent to live in the moon for so long.

Eating moon cakes outside under the moon

Lighting lanterns on towers

Fire Dragon Dances

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