Organizers of the Cheung Chau Bun Festival have advised visitors and restaurant operators to refrain from eating and serving meat on the island during the week-long event.
The strictly vegetarian diet during the festival is in keeping with the religious character of the event, and is intended to honor Buddha and seek peace and prosperity for everyone, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports, citing a statement from the Hong Kong Cheung Chau Bun Festival Committee.
The festival started as a ritual among fishing communities to seek divine protection from sea pirates.
Ho Lai-on, vice chairperson of the committee, said the vegetarian diet was strictly followed throughout Cheung Chau during the 1950s and 1960s.
However, as years passed and more visitors from other parts of Hong Kong and elsewhere came, the tradition eventually fell into oblivion.
Ho estimates that over half of the restaurants on the island now sell meat dishes during the festival.
While Ho understands that many restaurants break the rules for profit, he wants to remind them that selling strictly vegetarian food for just three days of the festival will not really affect business much as visitors will keep on coming.
Even McDonald’s has agreed to follow the tradition and will sell mushroom-based burgers at its branch on the island instead of meat patties during the festival, Ho said.
The Bun Festival, which draws tens of thousands of local and overseas tourists every year, is staged to mark the eighth day of the fourth month on the Lunar Calendar.
This year, the festival will take place from April 30 until May 4, covering Labor Day and Buddha’s Birthday.
Last year, more than 26,000 people visited Cheung Chau on the day of the Piu Sik parade and the bun snatching competition.
The Cheung Chau Bun Festival has been included in List of National Intangible Cultural Heritages.
Apple Daily reports that even Gam Wing Taai Fish Balls has agreed to stop selling fishballs and offer only vegetarian food until the end of the Piu Sik parade on the third day of the festival.
A regular visitor surnamed Cheung said the vegetarian rule will not prevent him from his annual pilgrimage to Cheung Chau, saying that abstaining from meat for one or two days is fine by him.
But another visitor, Miss Chan, said it would be difficult for her not to eat fishballs as it is one of the main reasons attracting her to visit the island during the festival.
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