Jinshui Temple in Qibu, a village in Fuzhou, is dedicated to the Buddhist deity Sandai Zushi, which is a popular deity in Fujian and many countries in Southeast Asia. It is a local tradition in the village to carry a statue of Sandai Zushi on a palanquin across a field of burning charcoal every four years to pray for a bumper harvest and a happy life.
The ritual has been held in Qibu for several centuries and has been named part of Fuzhou city's intangible cultural heritage.
Thousands of onlookers look on as the final preparations are made for the fire treading ceremony in Qibu, a village in Fuzhou, Fujian province. [Photo/Fuzhou Evening News]
This year was a fire treading year, and the event, which took place on Feb 9 this year, attracted a huge amount of interest from local residents, media and scholars of folk culture. Thousands of people arrived to watch the ceremony, including academics that had traveled from regions across China, Singapore and Indonesia.
In the morning, a circular earthen wall was built on a mountain near the village to enclose more than 600 baskets of charcoal. When this giant field of charcoal—15 meters in diameter and 40 centimeters in height—was set on fire, it pushed the temperature to as high as 300 degrees centigrade.
Residents of Qibu village in Fuzhou, Fujian province carry a Buddhist statue across a field of burning charcoal on Feb 9. The village’s fire treading ceremony is a ritual that dates back centuries. [Photo/Fuzhou Evening News]
The fire crossing took place at 4 pm, with villagers carrying a statue of Sandai Zushi arriving at the scene. After paying homage to the god and praying for blessings, the villagers, who had been on a vegetarian diet for three days, carried the statue barefoot across the scorching field of charcoal from north to south to the roaring sound of gongs and drums. The thousands of onlookers cheered as the parade rushed through the column of smoke rising high above the ground.
Among the cheering crowd were Lin Guoping, who teaches at Fujian Normal University, and his six students, who had come to study the tradition. Lin said that folk culture should be preserved as part of China's cultural legacy.