Chinese tourists flock to Sichuan province for start of annual pig festival
Crowds gather to see porkers carried through streets of ancient town as three-week celebration gets off to a crackling start
Thousands of tourists from across the country descended on a southwestern China city at the weekend for the start of an annual pig festival, local media reported.
The traditional celebration got under way on Saturday morning in Shangli Ancient Town in Yaan, Sichuan province, China News Service reported.
The highlight of the three-week folk festival, which is held to mark the arrival of the new year, is the parading of two sacrificial pigs through the town’s streets.
The dead animals were bound to a pair of wooden poles and carried by local residents dressed in ancient Han costumes. The ritual always attracts huge crowds of curious tourists.
As a result, the event is extremely lucrative for local shopkeepers, hotel owners and restaurateurs, and dozens of shuttle buses were laid on to carry the hordes of visitors to Yaan from the provincial capital Chengdu, the report said.
After being paraded, the pigs were taken to a ceremonial site, where people burned incense and recited prayers.
The festival dates back centuries to a time when local farmers were so poor that they could afford to eat pork only during the new year celebrations. For the rest of the year they existed on meagre rations of rice and vegetables.
As well as continuing the ancient tradition, the festival includes lots of less gory forms of entertainment, including lion dancing and Peking opera performances.