The procession troupes at the gods' festivals so common today in southern Taiwan, as on the China mainland in the past, perform a kind of ritual drama. The processions themselves occur on god's birthdays, in great ceremonies of renewal (jiao) or, in a more abbreviated form, at pilgrimage sites. The troupes (zbentou) are dramatic elements in the procession in that the performers dress up, portray a story, and try to entertain. What they do may be classified as ritual: forms and content are stereotyped, repetitive, condensed, and conventionalized (Tambiah 1985). The performances are for divine as well as for human enjoyment, and vary little as the troupes parade from temple to temple.

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