Six Steps of Dragon Bombing

During the early agricultural era,the Hakka
community of Miaoli started the tradition of "Organizing a Dragon"
(Hakka: forming a dragon team) after the Winter Solstice;
those in the community who wanted to take part would start
looking for a dragon crafter to "make the dragon".

The completed dragon must receive the dotting-of-the-eye
ceremony at a temple on Lunar 9th of the first month,
which is the Anniversary of the Lord of Heaven.
The goal is to pray to the deity and ask him to instill divine
essence into the dragon; therefore, "Dotting the Eyes of the
Auspicious Dragon" not only symbolizes praying for blessings
and warding off evil, it is also to deify the dragon.
Blood from a white rooster is mixed with cinnabar and rice wine
to make the paint, a calligraphy brush is then dipped into the
mixture and used to dot the dragon's head, body, and tail.
The official presiding over the eye-dotting ceremony must also
explain the meaning and symbol of the different locations during the process;
it is a representation that the Auspicious Dragon and the deity is now
one since the Auspicious Dragon is granted life once the eyes have been
dotted to become a "Divine Dragon". Dragons which have not had their eyes
dotted are regarded as "wild dragons" according to Hakka tradition; they can
only play a role in festival performances.

The dragon dance event in the Miaoli region is called "Greeting the Dragon"
in Hakka; it represents greeting and welcoming the Auspicious Dragon.
The Greeting the Dragon period takes place over three evenings from
the Lunar 15th of the first month to the Lunar 17th.
According to local customs, dragon teams will send out invitations
bearing the words "Salutations form the Golden Dragon" to the households
on their route to inform the people on which day the dragon team will be
coming to visit. The Hakka people believe that a visit from a "Divine Dragon"
has the same auspicious meaning as a "visit from a deity" -
capable of warding off evil and bringing good fortune to the household.
So once they receive news of the visit, they will prepare golden incense,
firecrackers, and red envelopes to wait at home until the dragon team arrives;
they would open their front gates and set off firecrackers to welcome the
"Divine Dragon" into their home. Once the dragon dance is complete,
red envelopes are handed out as a blessing for the New Year and also as
a reward for the team's hard work.

The Hakka people of Miaoli used the "Greeting the Dragon" event during the
Lantern Festival as a way to gain good fortune and ward off evil.
In the early days, street lamps were not common in farming communities;
dragon teams usually led the way with torches and visited houses one by one.
Hakka people believed that if you follow the dragon, you will be able to absorb the
"essence of the dragon," which will bring good fortune; therefore,
many families would bring out their lanterns and take their children to join the fun.
Many years later this has evolved into the fun activity of "Following the Dragon" parade.

Hakka people have a saying, "The more the dragon is bombed the more prosperity it brings.
"This means that the more the dragon has exploded from the bombings,
the business owner or the family who bought the firecrackers used for the bombing,
as well as the dragon dance group will become more prosperous; therefore,
during "Greeting the Dragon", the community will set off firecrackers to
both welcome the dragon as well as to fend off evil and obtain good luck.
The firecrackers are also used to add to the celebratory atmosphere. The noise,
lights, and smoke from the firecrackers are seen as thunder,
lightning, and cloud in which the bright and colorful dragons are dancing.

Ascension of the Dragon to Heaven is also referred to as "Thanking the Dragon";
this event takes place over three days. After the "greeting" on Lunar 17th of the first month,
once the schedule has been completed, the dragon team must return to the local temple
of the God of the Earth where the eye-dotting of the dragon takes place for the
"Thanking of the Dragon and Ascension of the Dragon". Since the dragon has
been deified after the eye-dotting ceremony, it now contains divine essence.
If the dragon is not burned it must be worshiped day and night,
otherwise it is seen as great disrespect to the deities and will also bring misfortune
to the owner of the dragon. Therefore on Lunar 17th at 11pm, the Ascension of the
Dragon ceremony is held to signify the successful completion of the ritual and to
send the dragon deity back to heaven.