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Yimin Temple

Yimin WorshipYimin

     Worship is particular to the Hakkas of Taiwan. Every seventh month of the lunar calendar, they hold a grand ceremony. The Yimin Festival and are held together and are sometimes mixed together. A big distinction between the two, however, is that Yimin is held for those who have lost their lives in defense of their homeland. The biggest ceremony of this type in Taiwan is the one at the Martyrs' Temple in Liaobao, Hsinpufang. They commemorate the Hakkas that fell during the Ling Shuang Wen and Dai Chao Chun Uprisings.


The Building of the Yimin Temples and Related Beliefs

     According to historical records, the Lin Shuang Wen Insurrection took place in the 51st year of the Qianlong Reign and the Qing Court could do nothing about it. Volunteer Hakka armies went in support of the Qing Court and defeated Lin Shuang Wen's army. They recovered Hsinchu and then marched on Tachia and Lugang. They quelled the rebellion with the help of Fu Kang An who was sent over by the Qing government.

 

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     After the revolt was put down, the army picked up the bodies of over 200 fallen Hakkas. They were carried away on carts and buried en masse in Fanliao Tsun in Xinpu Chen, Hsinchu County. The current location of the burial site is the Main Tomb of the Yimin Tomb of the Yimin Temple. In the 53rd year of the Qianlong Reign, Emperor Qing Gao Zhong sent the words "Bao Zhong" (commend with honor and faithful) to honor the Volunteer Hakka Army. When it was received, Liu Xian Kun and Liu Chao Zhen, among others, recommended that a temple be built in honor of the fallen. Money was collected and the Baozhong Yimin Temple was completed in the 55th year of the Qianlong Reign.

     The Changhua Dai Chao Chun Insurrection occurred in the first year of the Tongzhi reign. To protect their homeland, the Hakka sent a volunteer army to assist the Qing army. More than one hundred Hakka volunteers died in this campaign. After the war, the volunteer army gathered the fallen and buried them in Fangliao. This is the Auxiliary Tomb of the today's Yimin Tomb. Both the Main and Auxiliary Tombs are located in back of the Yimin Temple.

     For the last 200 years, the ceremony held at the Baozhong Yimin Temple has continued to expand, expanding from 4 to 12 towns during the Daoguang Reign, from 12 towns to 14 towns, and finally to the 15 major towns of today. It now encompasses 19 cities and towns, including Hsinchu City in Hsinchu County, Chungli City in Taoyuan County, Guanyin Hsiang, Hsinwu Hsiang, Yangmei Town, and Longtan Hsiang. Taipei and Kaohsiung also hold stately ceremonies every year. It can be said that anywhere that there are Hakkas, there are Yimin beliefs.

     When we look at the size and history of the Hsinchu Yimin Temple, we realize that the commemoration of the fallen Hakka volunteers is central to Hakka beliefs. Their beliefs do not rest on legends; rather they are based on gratitude to the Hakka pioneers of Taiwan.


Zhongyi Pavilion

     Numerous grassroot revolts took place during the Qing Dynasty and the countryside was in tumult as a result. The most pronounced of these were the Zhu Yi Gui Incident of the Kangxi Period and the Lin Shuang Wen Incident during the Qianlong Reign. Pioneers never encroached on land opened up by others, but neither would they tolerate bullying from others. During the 30 years following the opening up of Liudui, life was hard as they concentrated on developing the land. They had no time to concern themselves with outside matters nor did they have any conflicts with others. They only strove to govern and protect themselves. When the Zhu Yi Gui Rebellion took place, however, it threatened the existence of Liudui, so they put up resistance. The locals formed the Liudui Army to go to the front and fight. They returned from the war victorious and the Qing Court set up the Zhongyi Pavilion to commend them for their actions. Later, the volunteer army returned to Liudui to farm and to study. They kept to themselves until the Wu Fu Xing and Lin Shuang Wen Rebellions of the 10th year of the Yongzheng reign. Tainan Prefecture and Fengshan County came forth and asked Liudui to send a volunteer army. They did so twice and were very successful. The Qing Court praised the Liudui Hakkas very highly and presented them with a plaque with "Baozhong Li" (Honorable and Faithful) inscribed on it to praise their faithfulness. Later, the Liudui Volunteer Army took the responsibility of gathering the funds necessary for protecting the Liudui area with the richest paying a higher percentage. They would fight later against the Japanese in the bloody battles at Yuebu Lou, Jiabu Hsiang, and Huoshao Township, Changzhi Hsiang. The self-protection force stayed together for over 170 years. Whenever a Liudui soldier died when protecting the homeland, his body was interred at the Zhongyi Pavilion. Gradually, the Zhongyi Pavilion became more than just a place where the bodies of those who had fallen in battle were laid, it became symbolic of the Hakka spirit and became the center of their beliefs.