Free Qixi Festival events canceled
Updated: 2012-08-21 07:16
By Zheng Caixiong in Guangzhou (China Daily)
The planned free Qixi Festival carnivals in Haixinsha Park have been canceled without any prior announcement, angering many Guangzhou residents and visitors.
Tourists pass by a sign in front of Haixinsha Park announcing the cancelation of free carnivals for the Qixi Festival at Guangzhou, Guangdong province on Monday. Zou Zhongpin / China Daily
According to a notice at the entrance of the park, all the carnival events for the festival have been canceled, and visitors will have to pay for entrance tickets.
An official from the Tianhe district government admitted that the carnival events were suddenly called off without any warning to the public.
"It is because of typhoon Kai-Tak, which slammed into Guangdong province over the weekend. We didn't have enough time to organize a press conference to let the public know," said the official who wished to remain anonymous.
But another local government official, who also did not want to be named, said the events were canceled because they could not reach an agreement with the park for organizing the carnivals for free. "Typhoon Kai-Tak is just a good excuse."
In late June, the Tianhe district government published a notice announcing that free carnivals were planned in Haixinsha, a Pearl River island in the city, from Aug 19 to 26 to celebrate the Qixi Festival, a traditional day of romance in China.
The district government printed 770,000 free-admittance tickets, but didn't send them out.
Haixinsha, site of the opening and closing ceremonies of the Guangzhou Asian Games in November 2010, now charges residents and tourists 30 yuan ($4.80) to get in.
The island has come to be known as a must-see scenic spot in the southern metropolis since the Asian Games.
"I was very disappointed to learn the Qixi Festival carnivals were called off and I'd have to pay for a ticket to visit Haixinsha," said Zeng Chuanbing, a Guangzhou resident, at the entrance to the island.
Zeng said he had invited friends from outside Guangzhou to visit Haixinsha for the free visitors day on Sunday.
"But I had to give up the idea. Actually, Haixinsha isn't worth buying tickets to visit," he said.
"Haixinsha is not a scenic spot. It's a sports park and known around the country only since the 2010 Asian Games," he added.
He said the government departments involved should allow residents and tourists to visit the island for free as soon as possible.
Chen Qingyun, a Foshan resident, asked why the government did not inform the public it was canceling the carnivals.
"I traveled a long distance from another city to get here, and then I was told I can't get in for free, in contrast to what the media reported a month ago," Chen said.
Chen had wanted to visit Haixinsha with her 6-year-old daughter and said she was returning home with regrets.
Qixi Festival is based on a tragic love tale. A Chinese couple, Niulang (cowherd) and Zhinu (fairy weaver), were separated by Wangmu (the supreme goddess of heaven) after she became angry that a fairy had married a mortal. The lovers could only meet once a year on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month on a bridge formed by magpies that took pity on them.
Most Chinese remember the tale from their childhood. If it rains heavily on the evening of Qixi, some elderly Chinese say it is Zhinu crying as she meets her husband in the Milky Way.
The festival can be traced back to the Han dynasties (206 BC-AD 220). Records from the Eastern Jin Dynasty (AD 317-420) also mention the festival, and records from the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907) describe a grand evening banquet linked to the event.