Taiwan’s Hakka communities stand out. Though like most of Taiwan’s population today, the Hakkas are of ethnic Chinese stock, their language and customs set them apart, adding to Taiwan’s cultural mix. Even in the area of religion, you can find some distinctively Hakka practices. For over 200 years, for instance, Hakka communities in northern Taiwan have revered the Yimin gods, a group of local fallen soldiers who became divine upon their deaths in battle, so great was their sacrifice.
In Taipei, especially, where an annual Yimin festival has been put on for 30 years, the worship of these gods has become a public celebration of Hakka identity. One of the people who turned this festival into the big event it is joins me in the studio today. Fan Chiang Jui helped grow Taipei’s Yimin festival from a small gathering into an event that mayors and presidents have attended- a time each year where Hakka food, song, and language all take to the spotlight. He’s here to tell the story of the Yimin gods and lay out what visitors to the festival in Taipei have to look forward to.