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September 23, 2014

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Home » District » Songjiang

Ancient hero is honored with bowls of soy milk

AS commemorations go, a recent event in Fangta Park looked a bit out of the ordinary.

Two thousand bowls of soybean milk and deep-fried dough sticks called you tiao were given out free to people who had come to pay tribute to an ancient hero.

The commemoration is held every year is to honor Li Daiwen, a Songjiang calligrapher and a patriotic government official during the late Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), who fought against an invasion of Manchu soldiers.

Li Linsong, who was in the park to help hand out the bowls of soy milk, is a descendant of Li Daiwen, 23 times removed.

“I learned about my ancestor’s stories from my father when I was a child,” he explained. “They have had a great influence on my own life and work. My ancestor Li has always been my role model.”

In the battle against the Manchu, Li was a general, assigned to guard the East Gate of old Songjiang City. The Manchu soldiers broke in from the West Gate. Facing defeat, Li told his men, “All is over. I will die with the city.”

Li hurried home to bid farewell to his family, then killed himself. He left a simple note, imploring the Manchu soldiers, not to massacre the city’s citizens.

Songjiang people built a shrine to honor their patriotic hero and came to regard his spirit as the town’s guardian.

On Li’s lunar calendar birthday every year, locals still gather at the shrine and hold a fair to worship their hero. The custom of drinking soybean milk to pay him tribute has become a cultural ritual.

At 7am on this year’s anniversary of Li Daiwen’s birth on July 14, a long queue of people stood in front of the gate of Fangta Park’s Tianfei Palace.

“This is the fourth time I have come to attend the commemoration,” said local Xu Meifang, 54. “To burn joss sticks for him and have a bowl of soybean milk are what we can do to remember Li.”


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