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January 11, 2020

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Annual Basket Fair Back Again

TO the uninitiated, the sullying of the pavements with yellow paint on all the roads around Bubbling Well and St. George’s for the last week or so now has a meaning, but to initiate it has meant that the Basket Fair of Bubbling Well Temple was due again. On Sunday, seemingly springing out of thin air, the fair was there, thronged with people, of all nationalities and all classes.

It is an annual show, this fair. For one week it blossoms from nowhere, to disappear as mysteriously as it came. For one week houses and shops are blotted out by mat sheds erected against them. Piles of merchandise clutter the pavements, forcing pedestrians into the roadway. Merchants clutter the roads, living in the midst of their goods for the seven days. And overall there is an atmosphere of calm excitement, or order despite the seeming chaos.

The origin of the fair goes back for generations. It started with the annual pilgrimage to the ancient Bubbling Well Temple, now almost lost in the midst of the modern buildings which surround it, this pilgrimage being in celebration of the legendary birthday of Buddha which, according to Chinese calculations, falls on the 8th day of the 4th moon, or May 10 this year. With this pilgrimage, peasants and artisans for many miles around used to bring with them bamboo work, baskets, and other specimens of their work in order to sell them to pay for the cost of their pilgrimage. From this the fair has grown till now it is almost entirely a commercial undertaking.


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