The Holy General of temple fair
▲The picture above shows different kinds of Holy Generals
(Source：Google image ）
The Holy General is a kind of divine idol, who plays an important role in the temple fair. People usually call it "Da Xian Wang Zai" in north, and "Shen Jiang", "Tong Zai" in central and south, however, the general name is the "Holy General Group". There are Tu Di Gong (earth god), Golden Youth and Jade Maiden, Qi Ye, Ba Ye, Qianli Yan (Thousand Miles Eye), Shungeng Er (With-the Wind Ear), Wen Wu Pan Guan (Civil and Military Magistrates), and etc. "Da Xian Wang Zai" is from Taiwanese, "Da Xian" means tall, "Wang Zai" refers to the person controlling inside. "Da Xian Wang Zai" is a folk custom of driving out the plague in ancient time. The ancients acted like General Fan, General Hsieh or all the other deities in the temple fair for driving out any devils or removing the illness, ensuring safety.
The origin of Holy General Group has related to the development of Beiguan Chinese Opera(*). Beiguan in Lanyang Plain was divided to two groups which are "Fu Lu", and "Xi Pi". They have their own way to develop and compete to each other during the temple fair parade. It was said that Xi Pi performed Chinese dragon dance at first, then Fu Lu performed "Great God Na Zha" to compete and implied the story of "Na Zha pull out the Dragon's tendon", at the same time, Xi Pi performed "Pagoda-Bearing Heavenly King Li" to symbolize the image of "Li Jing defeats Na Zha". Two parties provided lots of performances for earning higher praise and also bring the temple fair to life. Since that, this custom has been kept, and we can still see the Holy General today.
In the past, the Holy Generals were sculptured by wood, now is manufactured by fiberglass model which reduce lots of weights. The height of Holy General is as two times high as the adults, the appearance is as similar as the one worshipped in the temple, empty inside that allows a man wearing it and carrying on. There is a hole on the chest or the mouth of the Holy General which helps the man who has to carry the Holy General see the scenes outside. In the temple fair, the movements are exaggerated during the march, shaking the hands largely and walking by large, calm steps, which provides the awe-inspiring and dignified impression during the temple fair.
(*Note 1: Beiguan Chinese Opera is very active and common opera in Taiwan folk, no matters it is Din Tao, Bai Chang (warming up performance), or Deng Tai (the whole performance), all forms the traditional atmosphere lively, and the various opera has their own styles and distinguishing feature.)
(Reference：YAHOO!blog “Rong”Hotel Temple Cup Competition 2- Chiayi Long Hua Feng Tian Tang- Holy General V.S. Eight Infernal Generals(5))