Bok Kai Festival

Bok Kai Festival

Usually February or March; second day of second month of Chinese lunar year
The Bok Kai Festival is a two-day event in Marysville, Calif., that began as a Chinese religious event to honor Bok Eye (or Bok I), the god who has the power to control flooding and the waters of irrigation and the rains. The festival, held since the 1880s, is now more of a cultural tribute to the Bok Kai legend.
Chinese immigrants came to northern California in the 1850s to find work in the gold fields or on the railroads being built through the Sierra Nevada mountains. When the railroads were completed, they settled in Marysville, which became the third largest Chinese community in the country, after San Francisco and Sacramento.
Between 1825 and 1862, three floods caused hundreds of fatalities in the Marysville area. In 1865, the Chinese first built a temple on the Yuba River, naming it Bok Kai Mui, meaning temple (Mui) on the north (Bok) side of the stream (Kai). (The temple was destroyed by fire and rebuilt in 1880.) Several gods were placed in the temple, but Bok Eye, meaning Northern or Dark North God, was the central deity. By building the temple in his honor, the Chinese people hoped to protect the city from future flooding.
The celebration of Bomb Day —Bok Eye's birthday—began in the 1880s. Today the celebration of Bomb Day with the Bok Kai Festival is a community-wide affair, drawing thousands of visitors from as far as Hong Kong. The day is named for the bombs, huge firecrackers that are fired off during the festival. A parade is another highlight of the festival, and a 150-foot dragon is the highlight of the parade. It winds its way along the parade route on the legs of 100 volunteers, accompanied by floats and marching bands, Clydesdale horses and a Wells Fargo stagecoach—more than 100 entries in all. The current dragon is the second one to be used in the parade. The first, brought to the United States before 1900, was retired in 1937 and now rests in the temple.
Besides the parade, there are vendors' markets for foods and crafts, demonstrations of martial arts, lion dancing, art displays, and performances by celebrated Chinese artists; these have included a master of Chinese brush painting, a pianist from China, and a composer and poet.
The Bok Kai Temple in Marysville is the only religious shrine to Bok Eye outside of Asia and is a designated historical landmark.
CONTACTS:
The City of Marysville Bok
P.O. Box 1844
Marysville, CA 95901
www.bokkaitemple.org
References in periodicals archive ?
The authors have been attending the Marysville Bok Kai Festival and Parade intermittently since 1992.
Marysville: This former gold-mining town 40 miles north of Sacramento will celebrate its 116th Bok Kai Festival March 23 and 24, marking the beginning of spring and the Chinese New Year.