Listen to the Centennial Sound - Xiangtian Lake Saisiyat Tribe
Nanzhuang is a famous Hakka tourist attraction in Miaoli; but other than the Hakka characteristics familiar to everyone, one may arrive at Xiangtian Lake when going up farther, which is one of the gathering venues for Saisiyat Tribe. I remember the last time I was here at Xiangtian Lake, the misty fog where one could notyou’re your own fingers had covered the entire Xiangtian Lake with a mysterious veil, and there is a footpath around Xiangtian Lake. The lake was covered with lotus when A-Shin visited this time, where one would feel refreshed by admiring the pink beauty amongst the lush greenness. Strolling on the footpath is very relaxing, and each landscape has its own unique charming characteristic; the scenery reflected on the surface of the lake become united with the original mountains to offer a majestic view, and it feels like unveiling the mystery of Xiangtian Lake with every step taken, which is anticipating and surprising.
Besides the lake and mountain scenery of Xiangtian Lake perfect for driving away one’s worries, it is also the venue for holding Pas-ta'ai (Ritual to the Short People) – a significant fiesta for Saisiyat Tribe. Every two years there is a small ceremony, and a big one every decade, which has attracted many tourists to visit and participate. This year is the decade big ceremony, so those who are interested better start making arrangements now.
The story of Pas-ta'ai was that a long time ago, the Saisiyat people were able to have ample food and clothing based on the agricultural techniques passed on to them from the short people tribe, but some of the short people often teased the Saisiyat tribal females, such that the Saisiyat people could no longer bear them over a long period of time, hence they decided to take revenge and set up schemes to make the short people all fall into the river and drown, with almost no survivors left. After the short people died, the Saisiyat Tribe had bad crops every year, and the Saisiyat people believed that it was because of the haunting of the short people’s spirits, therefore they began to hold the Pas-ta'ai annually in order to beg for forgiveness from the short people’s spirits, and that was the origin for Saisiyat Tribe’s Pas-ta'ai.
Pas-ta'ai continues for 6 days, with the process of entertaining the spirits, welcoming the spirits and sending off the spirits; entertaining the spirits is open to the general public, but welcoming the spirits and sending off the spirits are not available for watching. One may refer to the relevant ritual process on the official website for Culture and Tourism Bureau, Miaoli County.
To the Saisiyat people, Pas-ta'ai is sacred, and since it is a ritual held to express confessions towards the short people’s spirits, thus the entire ritual is significantly different to the common Harvest Festival; there are no sophisticated dance steps in the ritual, and the nightlong singing and dancing maintain in a spiral formation, while the dance steps along with the tones of the ritual songs demonstrate an awe-inspiring atmosphere in the tranquil nights.
Since the ritual is sacred, one must participate in the ceremony with a respectful heart instead of tourism intention, and try to experience the power conveyed by such profound cultural deposits with your heart in order to be truly moved!
Xiangtian Lake Footpath
Scenery around the lake
Blossoming lotus pond
Magnificent lake and mountain scenery