SH@LoM~.. =.=

Hi!Hows life going on recently? Do not give up if you're facing some problems.. Be thankful and appreciate of what you have now.. Handle all your worries unto Jesus! He'll guide and guard you through it for He is AWESOME... Trust in Him and He shall LEAD you through it.. Be Happy Always!! Live in Joy!! Have a Blessed Day...




There was an error in this gadget

Saturday, September 13, 2008

WhY PeOpLe CelEBRaTe MoONCaKe FeSTiVaL?

Stories of the Mid-Autumn Festival

Houyi and Chang'e

While Westerners may talk about the "man in the moon", the Chinese talk about the "woman in the moon". The story of the fateful night when Chang'e was lifted up to the moon, familiar to most Chinese citizens, is a favorite subject of poets. Unlike many lunar deities in other cultures who personify the moon, Chang'e lives in the moon. Tradition places Houyi and Chang'e around 2170 BC, in the reign of the legendary Emperor Yao, shortly after that of Huang Di.

There are so many variations and adaptations of the Chang'e legend that one can become overwhelmed and utterly confused. However, most legends about Chang'e in Chinese mythology involve some variation of the following elements: Houyi, the Archer; Chang'e, the mythical Moon Goddess of Immortality; an emperor, either benevolent or malevolent; an elixir of life; and the Moon:

Houyi, the archer

There are at least 6 variations to this story where Houyi was an archer.

Version 1:
Houyi was an immortal, while Chang'e was a beautiful young girl, working in the Jade Emperor's (Emperor of Heaven) (玉帝) Palace as the attendant to the Queen Mother of the West (wife of the Jade Emperor), just before her marriage. One day, Houyi aroused the jealousy of the other immortals, who then slandered him before the Jade Emperor. Houyi and his wife, Chang'e, were subsequently banished from heaven, and forced to live by hunting on earth. He became a famous archer.

Now at this time, there were 10 suns, in the form of Three-legged birds, residing in a mulberry tree in the eastern sea; each day one of the sun birds would be rostered to travel around the world on a carriage, driven by Xihe (deity) the 'mother' of the suns. One day, all 10 of the suns circled together, causing the earth to burn. Emperor Yao, the Emperor of China, commanded Houyi to shoot down all but one of the suns. Upon the completion of his task, the Emperor rewarded Houyi with a pill that granted eternal life, and advised him: "Make no haste to swallow this pill; first prepare yourself with prayer and fasting for a year".Houyi took the pill home and hid it under a rafter, while he began healing his spirit. While Houyi was healing his spirit, Houyi was summoned again by the emperor. Chang'e, noticing a white beam of light beckoning from the rafters, discovered the pill, which she swallowed. Immediately, she found that she could fly. At that moment, Houyi returned home, and, realizing what had happened, began to reprimand her. Chang'e flew out the window into the sky.

With bow in hand, Houyi sped after her, and the pursuit continued halfway across the heavens. Finally, Houyi had to return to the Earth because of the force of the wind. Chang'e reached the moon, and breathless, she coughed. Part of the pill fell out from her mouth. Now, the hare was already on the moon, and Chang'e commanded the animal to make another pill from it, so that she could return to earth to her husband.

As of today, the hare is still pounding herbs, trying to make the pill. As for Houyi, he built himself a palace in the sun as "Yang" (the male principle), with Chang'e as "Yin" (the female principle). Once a year, on the 15th day of the full moon, Houyi visits his wife. That is why, that night, the moon is full and beautiful.

This description appears in written form in two Western Han dynasty (206 BCE-24 CE) collections; Shan Hai Jing, the Classic of the Mountains and Seas and Huainanzi, a philosophical classic.

Version 2:
The story took place around 2170 BC. The earth had ten suns at that time. They burned the crops and people suffered of the infertile. Houyi sympathized the humans, so he decided to shoot down the sun but leave one to benefit the humans. After he shot down the suns, he became a hero. He had a beautiful wife name Chang’e and they lived happily together. Houyi had a lot of apprentices; they followed him to learn hunting. One day, on Houyi’s way back home the immortals emperor gave Houyi a pill which granted eternal life as a reward for shooting down the suns. He warned Houyi, “Make no haste to swallow the pill.” But Houyi loved Chang’e very much and did not want to leave her, so he gave the pill to Chang’e and let her store the pill in a safe place. Chang’e put the pill in her jewelry box. But one of Houyi’s prentices Peng discovered this secret. He decided to steal the pill. One day Houyi and other apprentices went to the mountain. Peng pretended he was sick so that he can stay at home. Everyone went to the mountain except Chang’e, who stayed at home. He intruded in Chang’e’s room and forced her to give him the pill. Chang’e knew she cannot fight Peng so she took flight and flew far far away. She did not want to leave her husband, so she stopped at the moon which is closest to Earth. After Houyi knew what happened, he was very angry and heartbroken. He looked up into the night and called Chang’e’s name. He discovered that inside the moon there was a lady’s shadow that look like Chang’e, so he ran and ran and tried to reach the moon. He failed due to the wind.

Version 3:
The earth once had ten suns circling over it, each taking turn to illuminate the earth. One day, however, all ten suns appeared together, scorching the earth with their heat. Houyi, a strong and tyrannical archer, saved the earth by shooting down nine of the suns. He eventually became King, but grew to become a despot.

One day, Houyi stole the elixir of life from a goddess. However, his beautiful wife, Chang'e, drank it in order to save the people from the her husband’s tyrannical rule. After drinking it, she found herself floating, and flew to the moon. Houyi loved his divinely beautiful wife so much, he did not shoot down the moon.

Version 4:
Another version, however, had it that Chang'e and Houyi were immortals living in heaven. One day, the ten sons of the Jade Emperor transformed into ten suns, causing the earth to scorch. Having failed to order his sons to stop ruining the earth, the Jade Emperor summoned Houyi for help. Houyi, using his legendary archery skills, shot down nine of the sons, but spared one son to be the sun. The Jade Emperor was obviously displeased with Houyi’s solution to save the earth. As punishment, he banished Houyi and Chang'e to live as mere mortals on earth.

Seeing that Chang'e felt extremely miserable over her loss of immortality, Houyi decided to journey on a long, perilous quest to find the pill of immortality so that the couple could be immortals again. At the end of his quest, he met the Queen Mother of the West, who agreed to give him the pill, but warned him that each person would only need half a pill to regain immortality.

Houyi brought the pill home and stored it in a case. He warned Chang'e not to open the case, and then left home for a while. Like Pandora in Greek mythology, Chang'e became curious. She opened up the case and found the pill, just as Houyi was returning home. Nervous that Houyi would catch her, discovering the contents of the case, she accidentally swallowed the entire pill, and started to float into the sky because of the overdose. Although Houyi wanted to shoot her in order to prevent her from floating further, he could not bear to aim the arrow at her. Chang'e kept on floating until she landed on the moon.

While she became lonely on the moon without her husband, she did have company. A jade rabbit, who manufactured elixirs, also lived on the moon.

Version 5: I
n a popular school version, Houyi was a lazy boy who did nothing but to practice his archery. He practiced day and night until he became the greatest archer in the world. One day, the ten suns all assembled around the earth. Their presence destroyed all vegetation, and hundreds of thousands were perishing. The emperor, who was desperate, offered his crown to anyone who could shoot down the suns. Houyi answered his call. He shot down nine of the suns, and as he pulled his bow to shoot the last one, the emperor stopped him. Saying the earth must have one sun. Houyi then became the emperor. He was pampered to the extent that he wanted to be emperor forever. He called his advisors to look for a way to make him immortal. His advisors found a way. They found a recipe for the Pill of Immortality. It required 100 adolescent boys to be ground into a biscuit like a pill. Every night he was supposed to grind one boy. On the hundredth night, his wife Chang'e could not bear to watch her husband become the tyrannical dictator for eternity. She prayed to Xi Wang Mu for help. She stole the pill, with Houyi shooting arrows at her, and flew to the moon grabbing a rabbit to keep her company.So the Chinese say that if you look up at the moon to this day you can sometimes see a rabbit making moon cakes.

Version 6:
A different version, is that Chang'e was a goddess. She fell in love with a farmer, Houyi, and he fell in love with her, not knowing she was from the heavens up above. Soon he had found out and the gods from heaven were furious of them because it was forbidden for a god or goddess to fall in love with a human. They had a child together but she still had to leave both her beloved husband and child behind during mid-autumn. She would represent the moon, he would represent as the sun and the child would represent as the stars. Taken pity over them, they are only allowed to see each other every mid-autumn.

Houyi, the builder

Houyi, a hero in Chinese Fair Tales, who loves Chang'e deeply, shot nine out of ten suns down.

The Hare - Jade Rabbit
A depiction of Chang'e and the Jade Rabbit

According to tradition, the Jade Rabbit pounds medicine, together with the lady, Chang'e, for the gods. Others say that the Jade Rabbit is a shape, assumed by Chang'e herself. You may find that the dark areas to the top of the full moon may be construed as the figure of a rabbit. The animal's ears point to the upper right, while at the left are two large circular areas, representing its head and body.

In this legend, three fairy sages transformed themselves into pitiful old men, and begged for food from a fox, a monkey, and a hare. The fox and the monkey both had food to give to the old men, but the hare, empty-handed, jumped into a blazing fire to offer his own flesh instead. The sages were so touched by the hare's sacrifice and act of kindness that they let him live in the Moon Palace, where he became the "Jade Rabbit".

Overthrow of Mongol rule

According to a widespread folk tale (not necessarily supported by historical records), the Mid-Autumn Festival commemorates an uprising in China against the Mongol rulers of the Yuan Dynasty (1280–1368) in the 14th centuryAs group gatherings were banned, it was impossible to make plans for a rebellion.Noting that the Mongols did not eat mooncakes, Liu Bowen (劉伯溫) of Zhejiang Province, advisor to the Chinese rebel leader Zhu Yuanzhang, came up with the idea of timing the rebellion to coincide with the Mid-Autumn Festival. He sought permission to distribute thousands of moon cakes to the Chinese residents in the city to bless the longevity of the Mongol emperor. Inside each cake, however, was inserted a piece of paper with the message: "Kill the Mongols on the 15th day of the 8th Moon" (八月十五殺韃子). On the night of the Moon Festival, the rebels successfully attacked and overthrew the government. What followed was the establishment of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), under Zhu. Henceforth, the Mid-Autumn Festival was celebrated with moon cakes on a national level.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your posting. I titled my latest novel, Rabbit in the Moon (by Deborah & Joel Shlian) based on the idea that there is a rabbit pounding on the elixir of life. http://www.shlian.com

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your posting. I titled my latest novel, Rabbit in the Moon (by Deborah & Joel Shlian) based on the idea that there is a rabbit pounding on the elixir of life. http://www.shlian.com