Pok Fu Lam's fire dragon dance to rival Tai Hang's
"Pok Fu Lam fire dragon dance" video by Hedy Bok
Tai Hang is not the only place to watch fire dragon dancing during the Mid-Autumn Festival. Pok Fu Lam village also boasts its own century-long tradition of waving incense-lit, straw-filled dragons every year to bring blessings to onlookers under the full moon.
"We used around 40,000 incense sticks on the dragon this year," said Ng Kwong-nam, leader of Pok Fu Lam village fire dragon dance team. One of Ng's dragons made an attempt for Guinness World Records in 2010 – the tradition's centennial anniversary – with a 73-metre-long dragon, "But you know, we can't keep breaking world records, so we are being more modest this year," said Ng.
"The fact that there's also Fire Dragon Dance in Pok Fu Lam surprises many people, because most of them only associate the tradition with Tai Hang. I've been involved in the ceremony since I was a kid, so it upsets me when I think about how we've been overlooked."
But instead of seeing Tai Hang as a rival, Ng dreams of the day when the two local groups can meet and exchange know-how about the luminous art. "How cool would it be if the two dragons could meet somewhere between Tai Hang and Pok Fu Lam and dance together! Of course there will be logistical issues, but it will be spectacular," Ng said.
Despite the relative lack of public recognition, villagers still pour themselves into reviving the tradition because it helps foster unity among the villagers. "In the old times, we did it to purge plagues and chase away evil spirits. Now our main purpose is to bring peace to the village. It also reminds villagers who have moved away to come home every year," says Chan Pui-chen, chairperson of the Pok Fu Lam village fire dragon dance organising committee.