HOW FAR WOULD you cook for tradition? According to the Hong Kong Museum of History, these towers are a traditional response to a plague which once devastated the communities. And what better way for such a communal culture to make an offering to appease goods than with food glorious food?
While that purpose was originally explicit in local rituals (interestingly, the name given to these people, 本地, literally translates as ‘local’), now it has become almost purely a periodic festival for tradition’s sake. Or, of course, an excuse to audaciously display craftsmanship, might and the blessing of eating until full at the same time.
But of course you can’t summon the good spirits without keeping the evil ones out. And in this case, there isn’t much practical reason like fining the community stomach to pull off a show like this. Which makes me wonder: does that mean that the modern Chinese understands the need to keep misfortune away better than the quest for fortune? Not if you were to look at their pursuit of success. Which gives me a new mission: exit the museum and see this ritual for real.