Scenes from a Hong Kong bun-snatching festival
HONG KONG — Thousands of local residents and tourists flocked to an outlying island in Hong Kong on Tuesday to celebrate a local bun festival despite recording-breaking heat.
The festival features a parade with children dressed as deities floated on poles. Later on Tuesday, contestants were to take part in a bun-scrambling competition. They will race up a 46-foot bamboo tower to snatch as many plastic buns as possible. Buns that are higher up are worth more points.
It is one of the oldest and most colorful festivals in Hong Kong and started about a hundred years ago after a deadly plague devastated the island. Villagers built an altar in front of the Pak Tai temple imploring the deities for help and used white steamed buns as offerings to drive away the evil spirits, according to local tradition.
The bun-snatching contest on the island of Cheung Chau was canceled after a bun tower collapsed in 1978, injuring 100 people.
Officials revived the tradition in 2005, part of an annual “bun festival,” this year with improved safety measures. Workers built a sturdier tower and bun snatchers received mountaineering training.