Traditional Rituals


Hualien is home to the rich indigenous cultural heritage of the Amis, Bunun, Truku, Sakizaya and Sediq peoples. The Harvest Festival every year is not only a vivid display of ethnic character but also the most important ceremony of the year for indigenous villages. Through an assortment of rituals, songs and dances, indigenous people thank their ancestors for a blessed year and pray for another year of good weather and abundant harvests.


Harvest Festival

Held between mid-July and early September, the event marks
a new year for the Amis, who celebrate and thank their
ancestors for another blessed year. Every village has its own
Harvest Festival lasting anywhere from one to seven days.
The event starts at nighttime and ends on the last day
with songs. No women are allowed to participate on
the first day while all women must participate on
the last day.

Fishing Festival

Held between June and August, the event marks the yearend. The tradition of fishing using toxic rattan has been replaced today with fishing by net or rod.

Malikudaay Cultural Festival

Traditional songs and dances performed at this festival keep indigenous folk culture and arts alive and pass on the rich Amis heritage from one generation to the next.

Ocean Festival

The Ocean Festival is a traditional ceremony exclusive to the Amis and Kavalan where they pray for safe fishing and abundant catches.

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Ancestral Ceremony

Held after the July millet harvest, the date of this
important Truku ceremony is decided by the chief
or elders. Before daybreak, all men arrive at
the ritual site with bamboo sticks of sticky
rice and pork in their hands as offering for
ancestors. The offering is consumed
at the end of the ceremony, and
themen must walk over a
bonfire to symbolize
parting with the

Headhunting Ceremony

After a headhunt, the successful headhunter wears the hubang (hero's attire) for about 10 days. The celebration is dampened if someone has been injured or killed in the group. The initiator of the headhunt must compensate the family of the dead with household articles. The chief kills a pig, goes into the mountains to cut up and fry the pork, and calls out village names one by one. This signifies he is distributing the meat and apologizing to the villagers. If someone has been injured, the initiator is responsible for the medical costs.

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Ear-shooting Festival

Held at the end of April when there is no moon.
Only men are allowed to participate, and they
shoot the ears of the deer, the largest animal,
to symbolize an abundant catch in the next
hunting season and also to pray for a
full harvest and wealth.

Infant Festival

In June during the full moon, a necklace is placed around every baby born that year in the hope the child will grow up to be as lustrous as the necklace. Family and friends are also invited to the ceremony; they learn of the new babies' Bunun name and give their blessing. Some villages now combine this event with the church calendar. The church decides a June date and holds a luncheon on that day. At night, all the women bring the babies to the church and the villagers try to guess the babies' names, winning a gift from the parents if they guess right.

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Sowing Festival

The event is held between February and March.
Village leaders and elders go to the chief priest's
home to consult on this year's seed sowing.
A date is chosen for all villages in the area,
and everyone must participate in the festival.

Rain Ceremony

The Sediq organize the Rain Ceremony only when there has been an extended drought. The villagers choose a nearby river as the site, and the chief priest decides which section of the river to use for the ceremony.

Hunting Festival

The Hunting Festival is held around October and November, roughly within one month after the Harvest Festival. The Hunting Festival may be held by an individual village or jointly by several villages. Every villager gets a share of the catch on the day of the festival, and the catch is divided according to the number of people per household.

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Palamal Fire God Festival

This ceremony, different from the traditional Harvest Festival, is how the Sakizaya express remembrance of their ancestors. It starts after sunset, and for the first time the Sakizaya restore their original identity and reunite with the ancestors who have been on their mind over the last century. After a blessing ceremony, cremation is performed for the coffins of the Fire God and his wife, signifying their souls may rise from the ashes together with the Sakizaya people. The Sakizaya believe their people died of fire and shall rise out of fire again. The Fire God Festival is held every October on the Sakizaya ceremonial plaza. The festival begins after sunset and proceeds through five stages (Opening, Greeting, Offering, Fire and Finish) and seven rites. Through the ceremony, the Sakizaya console the deceased while passing on their cultural legacy. The younger generations are reminded of the historical ethnic cleansing suffered by their forebears and the preciously preserved bloodline flowing in their veins.

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Ocean Festival

As the season changes from spring to summer around
March and April, Kavalan men select an auspicious
day and gather by the sea for the Ocean Festival.
In the morning, the elders make offerings to the
ancestors and then the young men head out
fishing. Around noon, the fishermen return
to the greeting of the elders. The fresh
catch is cooked with vegetables right
by the sea, and some fish is sent
back to the village to share with
those who could not attend.
The event lasts 2 to 3 days.

Year-end Ancestral Festival

The Palilin or Year-end Ancestral Festival is usually held by each family. The ancestors remembered include the female or male head of the house and deceased relatives on both sides of the family. As the family celebrates a new year together, the ancestors are invited to feast on the wine and food together as if they are still around, and the family asks their blessing for health and peace. Thus, the Palilin signifies veneration of ancestors, offering to ancestors, and blessing for peace.

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