Dongyuegong Temple Fair in Dali

Chinese Name:大理花子会/东岳宫庙会
English Name: Dongyuegong Temple Fair in Dali
According to tradition, the 28th day of the third lunar month is the birthday of Dongyue Dadi. Dongyue Dadi is responsible for the cycle of life and death of humans, and on this day, the departed spirits are released to have a day off. Families can go to offer sacrifices. Therefore, the Dongyue Temple Fair has become a day for people to remember their departed loved ones, offering sacrifices, and performing rituals to help the souls move on. The incense and activities during the Dongyue Temple Fair are particularly lively on this occasion.

It is said that among the released spirits, there are some lonely and wandering souls without descendants. People, while paying respects to their relatives, also make donations to these souls. Simultaneously, they provide alms to homeless beggars on Earth. This is why some beggars are attracted to beg on this day. The folk term “Hua Zi Hui” for the Dongyue Temple Fair originates from this practice.

In recent years, the incense offerings at the Dongyue Temple Fair have been increasingly prosperous, and the scene I witnessed today can be described as unprecedented grandeur.

Some people refer to the Dongyue Temple Fair as the “Beggars’ Congress,” a term I have consistently disagreed with. I believe the Dongyue Temple Fair is a relatively common folk temple fair nationwide, with complex religious connotations. Beggars are not the main focus of the temple fair, and people do not attend to support beggars. Instead, they come to honor their departed loved ones. Moreover, many beggars are disabled individuals, and it is unwise to sensationalize the Dongyue Temple Fair with the aim of attracting attention. This approach can be seen as discriminatory and insulting to disabled individuals. As for whether there are other intentions, it is challenging to determine.