An Asian Festival That Fosters the Development of Asian Culture

Like any part of the world, Asia strives to preserve its ancient traditions, which reflect historical, cultural and religious aspects of community life. Thus almost all Asian countries have a wide variety of festivals and events of national importance. Today China and Japan claim to have many more such festivals as compared to any other Asian country. The important thing is that the public has its pick of which Asian festival they want to enjoy.

The question is, just which Asian Festival does one choose? The most celebrated Asian festivals include Gion Matsuri, Bon Festival, the Asian Children's Festival, Bun Festival and the Japanese Botanical Festival.

Arranged annually in Kyoto, Japan, Gion Matsuri enjoys the status of the largest and the most prominent Asian festival in Japan. It is held for an entire month, culminating on July 17 with a grand parade. The history of this magnificent Asian Festival goes back to the year 869, when the Omikoshi of Yasaka Shrine was carried through Kyoto City, aimed at purifying it spiritually.

Bon Festival is an Asian festival observed in Japan as a Buddhist holiday, which honors the departed spirits of ancestors. Throughout its history, this Asian festival has been recognized as a family reunion holiday, bringing people to their home places. Established more than 500 years ago, Bon Festival is held in July in the eastern part of Japan and in August in the western part.

Another Asian Festival is the Asian Children's Festival, which is organized annually in Singapore by the National Library Board. The primary objective of this Asian festival is to promote creative learning of Asian culture among children. Started in 2001, the event attracts approximately 300,000 participants annually. The 2005 Asian Children's Festival started at the Woodlands Regional Library on November 7 and lasted until November 27. The festival aims at connecting institutions and people related to children in a number of aspects, including library and book worlds and world of arts, designed to meet the creative, emotional and educational needs of children. The festival provides a forum of celebrated writers, storytellers, librarians and puppeteers.

Another Asian festival is Bun Festival, held in Hong Kong, China. It is supported by several communities. The most prominent is the Bun Festival at Cheung Chau, which attracts thousands of spectators from China and overseas. The festival is arranged on the eighth day of the fourth month according to the Chinese calendar and thus coincides with the celebration of Buddha's Birthday. However, the religious origin of this Asian festival has been forgotten, which has resulted in its acknowledgement as a holiday of cultural importance in China.

On three out of seven days of this Asian festival,  the residents of Cheung Chau Island go vegetarian. No Chinese festival can do without dragon dances and lion dances, and Bun Festival is not an exception. Children dress as modern and legendary heroes and form the parade. The procession is accompanied by the musicians, beating drums for frightening evil spirits. At midnight people lit enormous sticks, harvest buns and distribute them to the villages.

The highlight of this Asian festival is three 60-feet Bun Towers, which gave the festival its name. Originally these towers were used for a race among the young men. In 1978 during the race one of the towers collapsed, which resulted in injuring about 100 participants. Since them the race was abandoned by the government. However, it was reintroduced in May, 2005, accompanied by the improved safety measures. Only well trained athletes were allowed to climb on the single Bun Mountain.

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