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Tsou Life Bean Festival
Last Change Time:2016-10-21Published by:Planning Section
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The Alishan Tsou Tribe Life Bean Festival held since 2002 is actually not a traditional ceremony of the Tso tribe. It is actually a new festival funded by the local government that connects Alishan tribe cultural, tourism, and industrial resources with an emphasis on a Tsou tribe group wedding ceremony. Due to this, careful foreigners (not part of the tribe) may notice how this event is different from the other two crucial ceremonies of the Tsou tribe: Mayasvi (war festival) and Homeyaya (millet harvest festival). Instead of a solemn, religious-like atmosphere that doesn’t allow foreigners, it is almost like a carnival, with lanterns, decorations, millet wine, and wild boar meat, inviting tourists up the mountain to celebrate together.

The main reason for the “Life Bean Festival” is because of the dwindling population of the tribe. The Tsou elders, with the help of local township hall and government, held the group wedding on 2002 for young women and men of theTsou tribe, encouraging them to wed and allow the tribe to grow through more generations. This so called life bean is actually found around the Tsou tribe, a type of rattan plant called “fo’na” in the Tsou language, and commonly known to Taiwanese as the “meat bean”. Every year the flower opens at November, growing bean pods, forming into a readily available traditional cuisine for the Tsou tribe. Due to its vitality despite poor soils or harsh environment, it became a symbol for the event, named as “life bean”, further creating the name “Life Bean Festival”.

The time for the Life Bean Festival is around November, the blooming season for the fo’na blossoms, usually for two to four weeks. Especially during weekends, the climax of the event, all type of couples, from young ones, newlyweds, to old married ones, will be influenced by the romantic atmosphere of the group wedding. The main event of the Life Bean Festival is the group wedding, and besides members of Tsou tribe, ordinary people can sign up as well. Once it even attracted a pair of foreign couple to participate. The whole wedding process combines Tso traditions. First, participants must accept the traditional Tso Tribe rite of passage ceremony. After accepting a lecture from the elders, the newlyweds will accept a symbolic whipping from the elders on their buttocks for two times, symbolizing their newly gained responsibility after coming of age. The elders will then help males wear a traditional fur hat, and a traditional headdress for females. Then, they will go through the spears array set up by Tsou warriors, and exchange tokens – the bride will hand a life bean flower to the man and into their popsusa, and the males will put their life beans into their bags. Then after sharing the “Tong Xin wine” and a passionate kiss, the tribal elders will give their blessings to each couple. Lastly, the tribe members will start dancing, celebrating for the newlyweds.

Other than the experience of a traditional wedding, the organizes also integrated modern perspectives on love, introducing a lot of events different from tradition, such as a hip-hop wedding, a fun wedding, or even one a baseball game design, where the couple experience the joy of working together and hit a homerun of love. An even more considerate service is a free wedding photo shoot, witnessing this alpine love.

Something that makes the Tsou tribe even happier is that each year, the couples in the Life Bean Festival live up to the expectations and bring new life into this world. These new parents brought millet wine and sticky rice cakes back to the wife’s home, while accepting blessings from the elders. The arrival of life is always welcome for the Tsou tribe that only has six or seven thousand people.

As for now, the Life Bean Festival is held at “Tso Tribe Cultural Exhibition Park” each year, located 47.5 km on Alishan Highway. This theme park was constructed and created by the 8 tribes of the Tsou, with an attempt to construct a tribal microcosm. It is intended to show off the special characteristics of each tribe, including Tabangu and Tfuya’s Kuba, Laiji’s “Titanic Cliffs”, Leye’s maple forests etc. Through the seven exhibitions of the eight tribes, different legends and local customs are portrayed, with activities such as live Tsou tribe performances, lovers ring, Tsou agricultural products, handicrafts, cuisines, tea, and warrior experience. Tourists walking through the pavilion can explore the local customs and legends of the Tsou tribe, interacting with Tsou tribe crafters. Not enough? Then why not engage in an in-depth visit into the tribe, making friends, drinking wine, and singing loudly. The culture of the tribe lives in bits and pieces of life.

Be careful of crowds on the mountains during holidays.
  • Activity location
  • Alishan Township, Chaiyi County
  • Organizer
  • Alishan National Scenic Area Administration
  • Activity time
  • From 10Month to 10Month ever year
  • By Car
  • 1. National Highway 1: Chiayi Interchange →follow Beigang Road (County Route 159) into Chiayi city →Cross over Jiaxionglu Bridge to Minzu Road →right turn on Wufeng South Road to Provincial Highway 18 (Alishan Highway) →47.5 km (Leye Village)
    2. Second Freeway South , get off at Zhongpu Interchange → Provisional Highway 18 47.5 km (Leye Village)
  • Remark
  • The details for each events are different each year. The specific details are accurate only through the organizers' announcements on time and location, please note the website for update.
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