Sunday, July 7, 2013

Rites & Gods of Chinese Pear Orchid

The pear orchid (梨園) is also known as Chinese opera communities; Cantonese opera (粵劇) and The Hokkian opera (閩劇) are two main Chinese opera schools. So, let’s take a look at the basic rites of these two main groups.


According to Mr. Ong, The Hokkien opera is the oldest among others according to Chinese history. Hokkien, Teowchew and Hainan operas begin by an offering ritual to the “8 fairies” while the Cantonese opera begins with a “ministers of six countries” ritual.  


The god of Cantonese opera (粵劇)


Hua Kuang Emperor (華光大帝) belongs to the god of the south and he is mainly worshipped by the Cantonese opera as the founder of the opera. It is believed that Hua Kuang can prevent fire incidents in the opera theatre.


It is a custom for the Cantonese opera crews to make handsome offerings to Hua Kuang (拜華光) prior to any opera performance at anytime and at any place. The insider believed mishaps will occur if the offering ritual is omitted intentionally or unintentionally.


Legend has it that the association of Cantonese opera is also known as the association of viburnum flower (瓊花會館) because Hua Kuang has once created havoc in the Jade Emperor’s viburnum party (瓊花會). The main hall that houses Hua Kuang statue is also known as the palace of viburnum (瓊花宮).


The gods of Hokkian opera (閩劇)


The Hokkian opera can be subdivided into two schools and majority of them worship the Tiandou general:

·         The mainland

o   The Fuzhou opera folks worship Tiandou general (田都元帥)

·         The Taiwan

o   The Northern band music (北管樂)

§  Xipi (西皮): This group worships Tiandou (田都元帥)

§  Fulu (福祿): This group worships Xiqin (西秦王爺)

o   The Southern band music (南管樂)

§  The guardian deity is Tiandou general (田都元帥)


All of the opera groups will need to make offerings to the selected grandmaster and patron gods and goddesses, including the so call the worship of “white tiger” (拜白虎) at the beginning and ending of opera performances. The “white tiger” in this context simply means the local and wandering spirits.

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