My experience of the Moon festival in Taiwan made me appreciate the beauty of creation and I gathered wonderful memories which I will cherish forever. It also made me appreciate Taiwan’s culture which is different from mine. The first time I heard about the Moon Festival was in one of my classes where the professor mentioned that there would be no class on the 22nd of September 2010 as that day would be observed as a holiday in Taiwan to mark the new Moon Festival. Before this I had never heard of anything like Moon festival and coming from The Gambia where the moon was seen frequently, it did not signify anything much for me as a Christian. Although Muslims look for it at a particular time of the year to mark the beginning of the holy month of “Ramadan”, which they observe by fasting, penance and alms giving and at the end to mark the end of their fasting. Muslims also look for the moon in order to celebrate one of the important days in their calendar observed about three months after the fasting month. As a result the idea of moon festival was very strange to me and I looked forward to the day with eagerness as I had been longing for an opportunity to attend and observe events marking and celebrating Taiwan’s rich culture, a feel of which we were given at an orientation we had at the Taiwanese embassy in The Gambia before coming to Taiwan. My appetite for the Moon festival grew bigger as each day passed and as the day drew nearer I watched the movements of people and observed the environment with keen interest. My eagerness became greater when all the students in our dormitory were invited by our dormitory managers to attend a party marking the festival. 
 
Celebrations of the Moon festival for me started a day before which was on the 21st of September 2010. I went to one of my classes and the professor brought us moon cakes which he said were gifts from a friend to mark the festival. On the day of the Moon festival I spent the early part of the day in my room looking forward to the evening and the dormitory moon festival party. In the evening, I decided to take a walk around to see what was happening and to look for something to eat. As soon as I came out of the dormitory I saw high traffic of cars, motorbikes, bicycles and people moving in all directions with bags in their hands which I was later made to understand by a friend contained gifts for family and friends. As I headed towards the Shipai MRT train station I saw a number of groups of people sitting around with clouds of smoke hovering in the sky from barbecues fires. It was then that it dawned on me that the Moon festival was all about sharing with friends and family and this was a touching site for me and reminded me of “Tobaski”, a day in the Islamic calendar celebrated by Muslims on which a ram sacrifice is offered to God in commemoration of a similar sacrifice made by prophet Abraham. On this day in The Gambia people gather together to enjoy barbecues and exchange pleasantries between families and friends. The view of the Moon festival barbecues in Taiwan therefore reminded me of home and I felt like I was at home.
 
Coming from the Shipai market I joined the other students at the 5th floor balcony where the Moon festival party was being held. A good number of students from the dormitory were present and we were also joined by colleagues from the university and friends from outside. There were lots of different types of Taiwanese foods and drinks. The party accorded us the opportunity to know one another and get to socialize as we hail from different countries and did not know each other much. We therefore started by introducing ourselves and then proceeded to help ourselves with Taiwanese food which I had gotten used to by that time. We also had lots of moon cake to eat. At about 10pm we moved to the balcony of the sixth floor to have a full view of the moon, the site of which was very beautiful. The moon festival for me continued for about a week because we had lots of cake from my roommate’s friends and I really got to appreciate the Taiwan Moon Festival while looking forward to another one.

AttachmentSize
NYMU-Henry Badji.doc240.5 KB