Elements of Intangible Cultural Heritage

    Festivities of the Day of Kun Iam


    The Festivities of the Day of Kun Iam are part of the traditional folk celebrations of Macao and integrate local characteristics. There are many dates connected with the traditions of Kun Iam, namely: the birthday of Kun Iam that is celebrated on the 19th day of the second lunar month, the day of her Enlightenment on the 19th day of the sixth lunar month, and the day of her Nirvana that is celebrated on the 19th day of the ninth lunar month. The introduction of Buddhism into the Xiangshan county, to which Macao once belonged, can be traced back to the Zen Master Zhenjiao, between 860 and 872, during the Emperor Xiangtong's reign of the Tang dynasty. The Pou Chai Temple was the first Buddhist temple built in Macao at the end of the Ming Dynasty. During the Festivities of the Day of Kun Iam every year, the Buddhist temples and the other local temples dedicated to the goddess burn incense, worship the Kun Iam and recite passages from Buddhist sutras. After recital rituals, many temples also perform the tradition of enjoying a Buddhist vegetarian meal, known as “Buddha’s Delight”, which is similar to the meals that are usually consumed by monks. The Festivities of the Day of Kun Iam are important festival activities of Macao’s local Chinese community.


    Conservation Status:

    Kun Iam is worshipped in many households in Macao and continues to be one of the most popular  beliefs among the local Chinese community. There are many local temples dedicated to Kun Iam,  such as the Pou Chai Temple and the Kong Tac Lam Temple, with the main ones being the Kun Iam Temple (Kun Iam Tchai), the Kun Iam Temple at the Estrada Nordeste da Taipa, the Ancient Temple of Kun Iam in Coloane and the Kun Iam Temple at (Ká-Hó). The Festivities of the Day of Kun Iam are an occasion of great festivity, when temples are visited by a large number of devotees, who come to participate in chanting and incense burning rituals.


    Heritage Value:

    Buddhism is a very popular and ancient religion in Macao. The Festivities of the Day of Kun Iam are one of the most popular and influential traditional events of Macao. The transmission and continuity of the Festivities of the Day of Kun Iam is also representative of the traditional Chinese religious culture of Macao, also being of significant value for the study of local culture.

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