AP PHOTOS: Hong Kong village holds once-a-decade festival

In this Dec. 10, 2017 photo, a villager burns incense in front of a huge bamboo theater with traditional decorations during the Tai Ping Ching Jiu festival at Lam Tsuen village in Hong Kong. The dayslong festival happens only once a decade and is held in a rural community, far from the southern Chinese city's famed skyscraper-ringed harbor. Organizers spend lavishly for celebration, including erecting a massive temporary bamboo theater for traditional Cantonese Opera performances. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
In this Dec. 7, 2017, photo, a villager burns incense sticks in front of a huge bamboo theater covered with traditional decorations during the Tai Ping Ching Jiu festival at Lam Tsuen village in Hong Kong. The dayslong festival happens only once a decade and is held in a rural community, far from the southern Chinese city's famed skyscraper-ringed harbor. Organizers spend lavishly for celebration, including erecting a massive temporary bamboo theater for traditional Cantonese Opera performances. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
In this Dec. 10, 2017, photo, a traditional Chinese roast pig is displayed during the Tai Ping Ching Jiu festival at Lam Tsuen village in Hong Kong. The dayslong festival happens only once a decade and is held in a rural community, far from the southern Chinese city's famed skyscraper-ringed harbor. Organizers spend lavishly for celebration, including erecting a massive temporary bamboo theater for traditional Cantonese Opera performances. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
In this Dec. 7, 2017, photo, villagers walk in front of a huge bamboo theater with traditional decorations during the Tai Ping Ching Jiu festival at Lam Tsuen village in Hong Kong. The dayslong festival happens only once a decade and is held in a rural community, far from the southern Chinese city's famed skyscraper-ringed harbor. Organizers spend lavishly for celebration, including erecting a massive temporary bamboo theater for traditional Cantonese Opera performances. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
In this Dec. 19, 2017, photo, flags with Chinese words "Home Safe" flutter next to a huge bamboo theater during the demolition after the Tai Ping Ching Jiu festival at Lam Tsuen village in Hong Kong. The dayslong festival happens only once a decade and is held in a rural community, far from the southern Chinese city's famed skyscraper-ringed harbor. Organizers spend lavishly for celebration, including erecting a massive temporary bamboo theater for traditional Cantonese Opera performances. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
In this Dec. 10, 2017, photo, villagers try to take off a huge donation list to burn during the Tai Ping Ching Jiu festival at Lam Tsuen village in Hong Kong. The dayslong festival happens only once a decade and is held in a rural community, far from the southern Chinese city's famed skyscraper-ringed harbor. Organizers spend lavishly for celebration, including erecting a massive temporary bamboo theater for traditional Cantonese Opera performances. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
In this Dec. 7, 2017, photo, workers pack belongings after a Chinese opera performance at a huge bamboo theater covered with traditional decorations during the Tai Ping Ching Jiu festival at Lam Tsuen village in Hong Kong. The dayslong festival happens only once a decade and is held in a rural community, far from the southern Chinese city's famed skyscraper-ringed harbor. Organizers spend lavishly for celebration, including erecting a massive temporary bamboo theater for traditional Cantonese Opera performances. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
In this Dec. 10, 2017, photo, lit incense sticks are seen in front of a shed during the Tai Ping Ching Jiu festival at Lam Tsuen village in Hong Kong. The dayslong festival happens only once a decade and is held in a rural community, far from the southern Chinese city's famed skyscraper-ringed harbor. Organizers spend lavishly for celebration, including erecting a massive temporary bamboo theater for traditional Cantonese Opera performances. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
In this Dec. 10, 2017, photo, incense ashes are seen during the Tai Ping Ching Jiu festival at Lam Tsuen village in Hong Kong. The dayslong festival happens only once a decade and is held in a rural community, far from the southern Chinese city's famed skyscraper-ringed harbor. Organizers spend lavishly for celebration, including erecting a massive temporary bamboo theater for traditional Cantonese Opera performances. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
In this Dec. 19, 2017, photo, a worker climbs up a huge bamboo theater during demolition after the Tai Ping Ching Jiu festival at Lam Tsuen village in Hong Kong. The dayslong festival happens only once a decade and is held in a rural community, far from the southern Chinese city's famed skyscraper-ringed harbor. Organizers spend lavishly for celebration, including erecting a massive temporary bamboo theater for traditional Cantonese Opera performances. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
In this Dec. 10, 2017 photo, villagers raise wooden signs as they march past some Christmas flowers in front of a huge bamboo theater with traditional decorations during the Tai Ping Ching Jiu festival at Lam Tsuen village in Hong Kong. The dayslong festival happens only once a decade and is held in a rural community, far from the southern Chinese city's famed skyscraper-ringed harbor. Organizers spend lavishly for celebration, including erecting a massive temporary bamboo theater for traditional Cantonese Opera performances. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
In this Dec. 10, 2017 photo, villagers watch a paper horse burn during a ceremony they hope will bring them luck at the Tai Ping Ching Jiu festival at Lam Tsuen village in Hong Kong. The dayslong festival happens only once a decade and is held in a rural community, far from the southern Chinese city's famed skyscraper-ringed harbor. Organizers spend lavishly for celebration, including erecting a massive temporary bamboo theater for traditional Cantonese Opera performances. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

HONG KONG — In a rural community far from Hong Kong's hustle and bustle and towering skyscrapers, villagers hold one of the southern Chinese city's rare and colorful local festivals.

Residents gather in the village of Lam Tsuen for the dayslong Tai Ping Ching Jiu festival. Participants give thanks to Taoist deities like Tin Hau for abundant harvests and pray for peace.

Organizers spend lavishly on the celebration, erecting a massive temporary bamboo theatre for traditional Cantonese Opera performances.

Other highlights include lion dances, vegetarian feasts and the burning of life-size paper effigies of animals like horses for luck. On the final day, meat is once again allowed to mark the ritual's close, so revelers enjoy delicacies like roast suckling pig.

The event is so popular that even villagers who have emigrated overseas return home to join in the festivities.

The festival, also known as Da Jiao, is held in other agrarian villages across Hong Kong's outlying New Territories at varying intervals. It was also once common in parts of neighboring Guangdong province in mainland China until the Communist Party took power, when such traditions were suppressed by the country's atheist leaders, who viewed them as feudal superstition.

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