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Wang Yeh Boat Burning Festival 2021

Become a part of the traditional ceremony of ship burning

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Every three years, in October or November, in the southern port town of Donggang a very special ceremony is held. The burning of the Wang Yeh boats attracts thousands of locals and guests to take part in a spectacular ritual. The whole celebration lasts for 8 days. The central figure of the ritual—the wooden ship is prepared a year beforehand. It is carved, painted and decorated in a traditional manner.

On the first day, the procession leaves the Donglong Temple and goes to the beach to invite protective Gods to the Earth. Before returning to the temple, bearers walk over fire to cleanse themselves. Usually, during this day you can meet people with paper on their backs. Some of them mean that the wish was sent to Gods, some—that it has been fulfilled. During the other 6 days, the boat is pulled by volunteers around the town to absorb all the bad spirits, diseases, and misfortune. You can also see people putting some paper with their wishes and messages in the boat.

On the last day of the Festival hundreds of tonnes of ghost, paper is prepared on the beach. Around midnight Wang Yeh is offered one last meal before returning to heaven, which contains around a hundred different dishes! After that, the boat is taken to the beach and pulled on the top of the paper mount. As soon as the boat is lit, you should leave the beach, not to let your soul fly away with the Wang Yeh. Nowadays this custom is rare to follow so lots of people stay and watch until the ship is burnt down.

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