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Pungeo Festival, the Boat People's Lunar New Year Celebration

2012/02/04 | 404 views |  | Permalink | Source

Here is Taean, in South Chungcheong Province, by the West Sea.

The Hwangdo Village is starting their Lunar New Year with Pungeo [풍어] Festival.

The Pungeo Festival is held to wish for a year of good fishing.

They've slaughtered a cow early in the morning, and the entire village is busy preparing the offerings.

[Interview : Park Cheol-guk, Local resident] "I bought the largest cow of the best quality and cleaned it. It weighs about 7-800kg".

In Hwangdo Pungeo [황도 풍어] Festival, local residents dedicate a cow to the snake god.

The tradition began a thousand years ago, when a light resembling the snake eyes guided a drifting boat.

[Interview : Park Hyeon-cheol, Chairman Hwangdo Pungeo Festival Preservation Committee] "They say that a fisherman once saw a light coming from dangsan, or sacred mountain, when he'd lost his course during his search for Hwangdo Island. The light resembled the eyes of a snake, so they built a shrine to serve the snake god and started the Bunggi Pungeo Festival".

The first shamanic ritual

is led by the town leader and two main shamans.

After offering the cow's blood to the god, local residents and visitors perform a commemorative rite.
The service used to be carried out on the second day of the Lunar New Year, but this year, they've moved the date to the first weekend of the new year to accommodate visiting guests.

[Interview : Kang Gyo-sik, Local resident] "We perform the first shamanic ritual in a series of many to come, then move to the main shaman's house, which is now our cultural center, and carry out Segyeonggut, or Segyeong exorcism. With our flags leading us, we then march to the place where we'll perform the main ritual".

Now it's time for the second ritual.

[Interview : ] "Please let us prosper in all our doings and look after our children".

Residents gather at the town center to perform a shamanic ritual before Segyeonggut[세경굿], or Segyeong exorcism.

South Chungchdong Province Intangible Cultural Properties No. 12
Received the "Presidential Citation" in 1977
The main highlight of the festival begins in the afternoon, when people parade around town in traditional percussion music.
The Segyeonggut[세경굿] of Hwangdo Village even received a citation from President Park Chung-hee[박정희] in 1977.
The residents embody the spirit of the Pungeo[풍어] festival, wishing peace and prosperity for their families and neighbors.

[Interview : Yu Nam-jong, Local resident] "We're praying for peace and health for the village and wealth and good fortune for the New Year".

Visitors joined the celebration this year, adding to the exciting experience.

[Interview : Oh Gyeong-seon, Local resident] "In the past, only those who owned many boats took part in the festival. But now that I've experienced it, I feel excited as if I just had a good haul".

People gather around after Segyeonggut [세경굿], each holding a flag of five colors.

[Interview : Oh Jae-ryong, Visitor] "Each boat has a flag of its own. They say that if you win the race holding your flag, you will have a big catch all year long".

The race while holding these flags is one of the important events in the Pungeo[풍어] Festival. They say that the first person to finish will have the greatest catch in that year.

[Interview : Park Hong-do, Local resident] "I think I'll have a great catch this year".

One can't miss out on a giant feast, either. Residents and visitors alike feast on rice cake soup, and are barely bothered by the cold weather.

[Interview : Shin Jeong-hui, Visitor] "Since it's the Year of the Black Dragon, I hope that people in all villages have a prosperous new year".

After warming their stomachs, they throw a Daedonggut, or the largest exorcism in the festival, in which they pray for a great catch and a safe course.

[Interview : Park Hyeon-cheol, Chairman Hwangdo Pungeo Festival Preservation Committee] "In the past, the Bunggi Pungeo Festival lasted for three days. But now that many of the boats have disappeared, we only hold it for two days. Since we can't leave the shrine, we perform shamanic exorcism all night until the next morning".

Daedonggut [대동굿] lasts until early morning the next day. Recently, they've fused exorcism with Korean traditional music to make it accessible to all.

[Interview : Seo Bok-dang, Vice president Society of Korean Pansori Preservation] "Because the time changes, we want to have everyone enjoy the festival, instead of strictly adhering to the shamanic traditions".

Namdo baetsori [남도 뱃소리], or a boatman's song from the southern provinces, expresses the wish for a rich year.

[Interview : ] "Let's enjoy a boat ride".

And people ceaselessly swarm to this place to write their wishes.

[Interview : Seong Gi-hui, Visitor] "I wish my family health, prosperity and good fortune for this year".

They store their hopes in a pile of straw called "daljip"[달집],

and begin to wrap things up by sharing the beef they'd dedicated to the snake god.

[Interview : Kang Yeon-ok, Visitor] "It's really great. We get to share an experience and pray together for a good catch this year".

[Interview : Shin Hyeon-deok, Visitor] "I got to see a tradition so meaningful and important".

After sunset, they make their prayers again, while burning their wish notes and daljip[달집]. Then, Daedonggut is performed all night long, which they'd started in the afternoon.
Meanwhile, the shaman appeases the souls that have sunken in the sea, and pray that they look after the residents and promote prosperity in the village.
Everyone is brought together at this very moment.

[Interview : Park Ju-hyeon, Main shaman of Hwangdo Pungeo Festival] "I dance to appease the souls and wish them a peaceful journey to the heavens. It's a commemorative rite like cheondoje, or praying for the departed to be reborn in paradise".

A special rite is also performed to drive out evil spirits. Despite the cold, they persevere through the night.

A new day dawns in the previously boisterous town.

Boat owners carry out individual rituals on their boats, and don't forget to hoist their bunggi[붕기], or flags that wish for prosperity.

[Interview : Jo Se-gwon, Local resident] "We used to perform shamanic rituals together on a boat after large ships had gathered. But these days, we carry out the rituals individually in the morning after Daedonggut, or Daedong exorcism".

Safety and great catches are perhaps the biggest hopes these fishers may have.

[Interview : ] "I wish that our residents will live peacefully without accidents and catch abundant fish this year".

Residents greet the New Year with their humble yet heart-felt wishes. We hope that all of their wishes will come true.


Most people can only see these kinds of customs in the movies or just through their imaginations.
I am impressed by their dedication.
It looks very cold.
Whatever it takes I guess to drive out evil spirits and bring in good energy.
The tradition continues to live on. Well stay with us, we'll be right back.

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