Wonderful Sanyuesan Festival parade of the North Emperor

Foshan China 2017-03-30


"The Sanyuesan Festival, the birth of the North Emperor" (三月三,北帝诞) The Sanyuesan Festival is celebrated on the third day of the third lunar month. On March 29th, thousands of people celebrated the birth of Beidi, the North Emperor, who was the water god of fire prevention, by performing spring rites in the Ancestral Temple and holding parade along main streets, which were traditional cultural activities lasting for hundreds of years. After the parade, people enjoyed a feast of Poon Choi (盆菜) lunch and cultural performance. Among them, some foreigners also joined this traditional event and were attracted by the culture of Foshan.

(Miki, a businessman from America)

"They told me that the celebration was for happiness, luck and prosperity. It is fantastic!" Miki, a businessman from America, watched the parade of the North Emperor celebration with his Chinese friends. Interested in traditional cultural events, he came to Foshan for the first time from Guangzhou to take part in this celebration. “I think that Foshan people are very nice and I am impressed by a strong sense of unity here. People live in a community and help each other.” He was also amazed by the rapid growth rate of Chinese economy and the development of business. “It is incredible. It is a miracle!” he said.

(Nizaar from India)

Walking along the parade route, Nizaar took a video of the squads. He came from India and had been to Foshan for several times. Attracted by the sound of gongs and colorful costumes of the parade, he came and visited the event. He found Foshan very peaceful and relaxing compared with the congestion in other cities. When talking about the impression of Foshan, he thought of kung-fu immediately and mentioned the long history and rich culture of China. “Foshan products are of high quality.” Working in Midland Group, he was looking for business cooperation and the company planned to set up an office in Foshan.




The worship ceremony of the North Emperor, which is the only existing complete ceremony of the North Emperor in China, was presented in the form of spring rite at the third gate of the Ancestral Temple. An altar was set in the center where many offerings and a censer were placed to worship the North Emperor. Lion dance, burning incenses, libation, reciting condolence and worship dance all gave the event a sense of respect and solemnity. After a series of rites, the ceremony led to a celebration parade that started from the double dragon wall to the front gate of the Ancestral Temple. There were about 800 people in 10 parade squads, dressing in costumes, beating a gong and holding colorful flags. The cruise of the North Emperor sends out blessings, which is a symbol of being close to people and loving people.

At noon, people enjoyed a feast of Poon Choi (盆菜)and the wonderful performance brought by the second group of Guangdong Cantonese Opera at Wanfutai Stage. Poon Choi is a kind of food that various delicious dishes are cooked in a ceramic pot and shared by people sitting by round tables, which makes a lively and happy scene. The succulent food, the smiling faces and the cheerful toasts were all part of this ancient cultural event.



There were also many other fascinating activities, including charitable sales of paintings and calligraphies created by masters, the famous Cantonese opera (Xianghua Mountain: Birth Celebration of Kuan-Yin) performance in Foshan Qionghua Theatre, and the exhibitions and performance of intangible cultural heritages such as the song and dance of the Miao and Dong nationalities, the martial arts show and the exhibitions of wooden New Year pictures, color lanterns, gambiered Canton gauze, etc.


Celebrating the birth of the North Emperor, also known as the temple fair of Foshan Ancestral Temple, is one of the most important Lingnan folk events. The Ancestral Temple is located in Zumiao Road that used to be “Ancient Luoshui” River. The North Emperor Temple was built in this place to wish for safety sailing in the waterway. It became more popular as a god of fire prevention since the Song Dynasty when Foshan became a famous iron-making center. Selected as the national intangible cultural heritage in 2008, it has become the epitome of Foshan folk culture and a significant social phenomenon of the historical development of Foshan. There are four main parts of the event, including the spring rite, parade, Cantonese opera and exhibitions and performance.