I’ve been to two temple fairs, back to back over two days, and I still can’t tell you exactly what a temple fair is. The very idea of what I had imagined it would be was completely different than what was actually there. I believed that we would go to a temple, pray if we wanted to, and maybe buy a couple of souvenirs to take home. Both fairs were drastically different, but had some things in common. Despite the cold air blowing outside, both fairs were crowded, people of all ages attended, had games, and celebrated the new year.
What I saw at the first fair was a Ferris wheel, roller coasters, and a multicultural dance performance. I was not expecting to go to a “Disneyland” amusement park (it even had its own castle)! Everyone who attended was given 40 yuan for lunch, which seemed like a lot of money until I saw the prices of the rides and food. Everybody I was with decided it was worth it to spend the money on food rather than any of the rides. For my lunch, I shared a squid on a stick (not your usual sausage on a stick fair food) with three of my friends. Needless to say, it tasted just like fried calamari, and it was fun to walk around and be able to say that I passed around a squid in a Chinese amusement park to my friends back home.
My favorite part had to be the performances that started around 11 in the morning. There were groups of dancers from Russia, Switzerland, India, and one guy from Pakistan. I really liked how even though it was Chinese New Year, people from other countries were invited to dance. They had beautiful outfits and moved to the beat of the music. The one singer from Pakistan was really interesting and did his own thing- dancing and singing in English, Chinese, and Urdu.
I looked around everywhere, and never saw anyone praying or any place where you could buy incense or even a building that remotely resembled a temple. It was a mystery to me, and I was interested in seeing what activities the second temple fair would have!
The second fair was at Ditan, which is the Temple of Earth in Beijing. This fair had a lot of red decorations and there was stands where people could buy anything from a rooster hat to drawings of famous celebrities or even painted facemasks. It was so crowded that I was afraid I would be separated from my friends. I was so amazed that it was so crowded because during the holidays, the streets around the university felt like a ghost town!
I took a lot of pictures, saw people playing carnival games, and noticed different stuffed animal prizes hanging in the stands. I didn’t see the temple (or maybe I missed it in the mass of people), but I had a good time walking around and seeing people holding beef and lamb skewers. I did catch a small glimpse of two Chinese acrobats performing, with one upside down in the air. It was amazing to see the amount of balance and focus they needed to perform well.
We didn’t stay long because it was so crowded and cold, but traveling back using the subway was really hectic because even more people kept coming! It’s not too much of a stretch to say that temple fairs, whatever they are, are very popular!
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<p>Hey everyone! I’m a junior and I currently attend Trinity University, a small school in San Antonio, Texas. I consider myself a sociologist in training, and I’m interested in learning and experiencing new cultures! This blog depicts my experiences in China, specifically Beijing, China’s capital city, a long way from home! Hope you enjoy and feel free to comment!</p>