Public come together to worship the flower goddess
Shanghai's first huashen (flower goddess) festival kicked off at the Guyi Garden in Jiading District on Saturday, inviting residents to vote for their 12 favorite flowers.
A hanfu (traditional outfit of ancient China) dance and guqin (a seven-stringed Chinese musical instrument) performance were featured during the opening ceremony, and flower arrangement shows, flower paper cutting and paintings presented a feast of flowers to visitors.
The ancient ritual of worshipping the flower goddess was replicated, with people wearing hanfu while reading blessing articles and putting flower lanterns into the river to pray for a good harvest and smooth year ahead.
The tradition can be dated back to the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907) in China. The 15th day of the second month based on the Chinese lunar calendar marked the flower goddess festival in ancient times, said folk custom expert Zheng Shulin.
"During the festival, ancient people went for spring outings together and appreciated flowers," he said. Women put colorful paper cuts onto flower branches as part of the festival tradition.
In the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, each month had a different flower goddess and different representative flowers, such as January's plum blossom, March's peach flower, April's peony and June's lotus, according to Zheng.
During the monthlong festival, pingtan (a music or oral storytelling genre), lectures about peonies, as well as flower arrangement works, paintings, bonsai, clothing and jewelry of the Qing Dynasty will be exhibited at the Guyi Garden.
A vote to select 12 flowers representing each month was launched by the Shanghai Park Management Center on Saturday.
People are invited to participate in the vote on WeChat, and the result will be announced at the end of the year.