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Miaohui (庙会), literally temple gatherings or translated as temple fairs, also called yíngshén sàihuì (迎神赛会 "collective rituals to greet the gods"), are Chinese religious gatherings held by folk temples for the worship of the Chinese gods and immortals. Large-scale miaohui are usually held around the time of the Chinese New Year, or in specific temples at the birthday of the god enshrined in the temple itself. Activities usually include rituals celebrated in the temple, opera on a stage facing the temple, processions of the gods' images on carts throughout villages and cities, performance of musical and ritual troupes (of Taoists, sects and Confucian ritualists), blessing of offerings brought to the temple by families, and various economic activities.
Geography and local customs lead to great differences in the nature of festivals dedicated to the gods. In northern China miaohui are usually week-long, with ceremonies held in large temples, and attended by tens of thousands of people; while in southern China they are a much more local practice, organised by village temples or clusters of temples of different villages.
People at a temple fair in Hong Kong
People at a temple fair to buy books
Typical decorations for a temple fair
- Matsuri, the Japanese equivalent
- Cooper, Gene (2013). The Market and Temple Fairs of Rural China: Red Fire. Routledge. ISBN 1136250298.
- Davis, Edward L. (2009). Encyclopedia of Contemporary Chinese Culture. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 041577716X.
- Overmyer, Daniel (2009). Local Religion in North China in the Twentieth Century: The Structure and Organization of Community Rituals and Beliefs. Brill. ISBN 9047429362.