TAIPEI - Taipei residents formed a long line outside the Confucius temple at dawn on Monday morning, waiting to attend the annual ceremony marking the ancient Chinese philosopher's birth 2,571 years ago.
The 90-minute ceremony started at 6 am, hosted by Kung Tsui-chang, a direct 79th-generation descendant of Confucius. A 37-step ritual that has been passed down over the centuries was performed at the ceremony.
Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je led the ceremony, with students from the Taipei Chongqing Junior High School playing ancient music, while students from the Taipei Dalong Elementary School performed a dance dedicated to Confucius.
Yu Hsing-fang happily observed her son's performance in the band. The boy, a junior-middle-school student, was attending the ceremony for the second time. The first time, he had joined the dance group as an elementary-school student.
"It took him a lot of time and effort to practice, but he seemed willing," Yu said. "We, as the parents, also supported him in participating in the event. It is good to pass on the tradition of honoring teachers and respecting education."
Li Chi-hsuan, a student from the Taipei Dalong Elementary School, practiced the dance for a year before performing at the ceremony.
"I have learned more about Confucius and the Confucian tradition," Li said.
Confucius temples across the island held birthday celebrations Monday, including Tainan and Kaoshiung in southern Taiwan, and Taoyuan in the north.
Confucius (551-479 B.C.) was an educator and philosopher, founding a school of thought that deeply influenced later generations. He was also the first person in China to set up private schools and enroll students from all walks of life.