Taipei-The Confucius Temple in southern Tainan, Taiwan's first temple dedicated to Confucius, held an annual ceremony to celebrate the birthday of Confucius Saturday, Teacher's Day in Taiwan.
The annual ceremony that kicked off at 5 a.m. marked the birth of the Chinese philosopher 2,569 years ago and followed ancient tradition that has remained unchanged over 2,000 years, the temple's cultural foundation said.
With Tainan Mayor Huang Wei-che (???) presiding over the ritual services and hundreds of onlookers present, one of the worshipping rites was a formation dance in which 36 school children lined up and performed in six rows and six columns to pay respect to Confucius.
According to the foundation, the Confucius Temple in Tainan is the only institution in Taiwan that sticks with the traditional practice of offering three animal sacrifices -- a goat, a pig and an ox -- to worship the Chinese philosopher.
Other Confucius temples in the island present the three sacrifices, but replace the real animals with pastry in animal shapes, the foundation added.
However, the practice of plucking hair around the eyes and ears of the sacrificed ox, a folk custom thought to provide wisdom, was canceled, according to the foundation.
It would not be safe for visitors to enter the building that held the sacrifices because it suffered structural damage in an earthquake three years ago and is under maintenance, the foundation said.
The practice will be resumed when maintenance of the building finishes next year, the foundation said.
Confucius is regarded as a role model for teachers and his birthday on Sept. 28 is designated as Teacher's Day in Taiwan.
Tainan's Confucius Temple, built in 1666, is the first temple that worships the Chinese philosopher in Taiwan and has been through more than 30 periods of reconstruction because of damage by wars or natural disasters, according to the Tourism Bureau.