Noisy parades and festivals are very common here, but I usually don’t understand the reasons. Today is May Day (and Labor Day), but my calendar doesn’t show any Chinese holidays on the schedule. However, as I was coming home from the hash, I could hear all kinds of ruckus, and when I reached the top of the MRT stairs, I saw a fantastic parade coming around the corner through the drizzle. It seemed to be in honor of a land god nearby, or perhaps a Daoist temple society.
There were palanquins and pagodas and marchers and musicians and horses and tapestry banners. It was amazing! I got some video and photos, and I learned at least one thing about ceremonial celebrations! I talked to a musician as they took a break right by my lane and answered a burning question of mine. See, until now, I’ve called the caterwauler heard at funerals and any other festive occasion “Chinese bagpipes” or just the “waily pipes.” Being curious about their name and construction, I jumped on the only musician standing apart to take a closer look and ask questions. They’re called Chinese shawms or 鎖吶 and they’re pretty sweet! They look like a simple flared metal cone with a tiny fanned double reed. Wikipedia says they’re made of wood, but I don’t know about that… To be honest, as soon as I saw they had reeds, I should have guessed the English would be shawm, but to be fair, that’s not a word that I frequently have to grasp for.
The parade went on a little while longer, but the fireworks are still going in shifts every half hour, it feels like. I sincerely hope they’ve decided to call it a night at 10:40pm, but my realistic side is telling me not to be a fool.
Unfortunately, my bluetooth is acting up again, and I’m going to have to take care of the photo/video part after some trouble-shooting.