The 7th day of the 7th lunar month is China's Double Seventh Festival, but in Zhanghu Town in eastern Fujian Province, they celebrate this day with a parade for their totem animal, the snake. They called it "Snake King Festival." The festival also retains some traditional customs, including snake fighting.
The snake king temple in the town is the center of most activities. There are three snake king statues in the temple - three brothers, which are said to drive out evil spirits.
There is a local legend about the snake. Since the snake king helped villagers exorcise the plague, villagers built a temple and regarded the snake king as a bodhisattva and held a festival to commemorate it every year on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month. This included snake catching, tours, letting the snake king return to the temple and freeing captive snakes.
Since August 1991, the snake cultural festival was resumed. The snake-relevant activities promote the "Minyue" culture, and help revitalize the local economy of Fujian Province.
"The Snake King Festival used to be organized by civil organizations," Deng Zhenglai wrote in a book - "Globalization and Localization: The Chinese Perspective."
Since 1998, the government pushed the development of the local economy and tourism by reintroducing special folk cultural activity. Therefore, the township government volunteered to engage in activities relating to the Snake King Festival in Wuyi, Nanping in 1998.
The folk-customs of the Snake King Festival do not only reflect people’s worship of animal totems in ancient times but also reveals the simple wish of establishing a harmonious and friendly relationship between humans and animals, as well as the concern for the natural ecological environment, including the protection of endangered species.
By Ye Qing