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Chapter Summary

For many hundreds of years, community festivals for the gods in rural north China have had their own forms of leaders, deities and beliefs. It is the villagers who build temples and organize festivals; Daoists, Buddhists and other specialists may be invited to participate if they are available, but only to provide what the people need and want. Chinese local religion is based on family worship of deities and ancestors on home altars but also involves large-scale rituals participated in by members of the whole village or township community on the occasion of what are believed to be the birthdays of the gods or to seek protection from droughts, epidemics and other disasters. This book focuses on these community festivals in all their dimensions-ritual, social and economic-emphasizing their organization and structure and the beliefs and values expressed by them.

Keywords: Chinese religions; community festivals; god's birthday; rural north China



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