The Sakizaya people believe in animism, that supernatural power is everywhere, and communication with the supernatural power must be conducted through mapalaway (the priest). Traditional Sakizaya deities include the Malataw (God of all beings), the Dungí (God of protection), the Ditu nu babalaki (ancestral spirit), and the Ditu (nature spirit). Each deity has its respective duty and worship ritual. After coming into contact with external religions, some Sakizaya people also believe in Han religions and Christianity.
The deity belief affects the daily life and health of the Sakizaya people. As a result, the Sakizaya people have developed agriculture-related rituals, such as the Mitiway a Lisin (Sowing Ritual), Collecting Ritual, Malaliki’ (Harvest Ritual), Musingá (Storage Ritual), Misaurad (Rainmaking Ritual), and ritual of worshipping the God of Sea. These rituals are held according to the Sakizaya four seasons: pasavaan (spring), ralud (summer), sadinsing (autumn), and kasinawan (winter). The Mitiway a Lisin (Sowing Ritual) is held between February and March on the lunar calendar, the Miládis (God of Sea Ritual) is held between May and June in the lunar calendar, the Harvest Ritual is held in August on the lunar calendar after crops are collected, and the Musingá (Storage Ritual) is held at the end of the year. Due to the changes in the social environment, these agricultural rituals have gradually been simplified, and only the Malaliki’ (Harvest Ritual) is still held regularly.
1. Agricultural Rituals
While millet is the main offering in agricultural rituals traditionally, the Sakizaya people have developed the Mitiway a Lisin (Sowing Ritual), the Kailisinan (Harvest Ritual), and the Musingá (Storage Ritual) according to the growth seasons of millet. As rice has replaced millet as the main source of food, the timeline of these rituals has been changed in line with the growth seasons of rice.
◎ Mitiway a Lisin (Sowing Ritual) In February to March on the lunar calendar, the cilisinay (ritual convener) calls for the ritual. Apart from worshipping the Malataw (Creation God), the primary duty of this ritual is sowing. After sowing, men catch fish and dine together. After the meal, they prepare millet or their catch for the convener to appreciate the smooth ending of the ritual and express their gratitude. Today, the sowing ritual has been suspended for some time.
◎ Kailisinan (Harvest Festival) The harvest ritual, or Harvest Festival, is held after the millet harvest. When harvesting millet, people weave strings with the leaves of the Formosa sugar palm to tie up millet ears and prepare glutinous rice cakes, wine, and betel nuts at the door for the mapalaway (priest) to distribute these foods to families with casualties, known as the process of patongí. After the patongí, the malalikid’ begins. Led by the chief, people are fully dressed at the ritual to thank the Malataw (Creation God) for blessing the harvest. A celebration gathering called paklang follows to end the ritual, that is, people catch fish and eat the catch with glutinous rice at the paklang.
◎ Musingá (Storage Ritual) After harvesting millet or upland rice, each household determines the afternoon warehousing time. After warehousing, they make glutinous rice balls called tunú to worship the Malataw (Creation God).
◎ Miládis (God of Sea Ritual) The ritual is held in May to June on the lunar calendar by the chief to worship the Malataw (Creation God) and Kavit (God of Sea). Traditionally, the actual ritual time is determined by the weather. Today, it is held on the lunar calendar. In the ritual, people worship the Kavit (God of Sea) with millet rice cakes (mochi) , millet wine, cigarettes, and betel nuts as offerings. After the ritual, they catch fish in the sea to symbolize the start of the fishing season. Today, the ritual is still held in the Jiqi (Kaluluan) Village.
2. Palamalan a Lisin (Fire God Ritual)
Based on the 1878 Takubuwa Incident (Takubuwa a kawaw to Sakizaya people and Jialiwan Incident or Lanas na Kabalaen to Kebalan people) , the Fire God Ritual is a community memorial event. When the incident took place, the Takubuan village was the biggest within the community. As the village was protected by the spiny bamboo enclosure and the Qing troops could not approach, the latter eventually launched a rocket attack, burned down the Sakizaya thatch-roofed houses and killed Sakizaya people in the village. The Sakizaya people moved to different places and could not commemorate their ancestors killed in the incident thereafter. As the whole village was burned down, the development of community culture was disrupted. A hundred years later, the Sakizaya people began to mourn for the deceased chief and his wife and others killed in the incident with the Fire God Ritual. Apart from memorializing this historical incident, the ritual also increases community solidarity. The agenda of the ritual includes: (1) welcome the God, (2) blessing, (3) tour, (4) worship, and (5) sending off.
◎ Di’tu (Welcome the God) In this part of the ritual, people make smoke to summon the deity and ancestral spirits. After the smoke making process, the five-colored messengers carry the torch to tour around the entire Takubuan village and call the ancestral spirts to the ritual at specific points. After the ancestral spirits arrive at the ceremony, they welcome the God of fire.
◎ Milunguc (Blessing ) The palongocay (blessing master) and the five-colored messengers stand in six positions of the venue for people to tour around to expel misfortune and receive blessings.
◎ Misaliyuk (Tour) Youth tour along the evacuation route according to the Takubuwa Incident (Jialiwan Incident). At the venue, the “Calling Dance (u-u-u-)”, “Song of Welcoming God”, and “Warrior Song of Harvest Festival” for the Harvest Festival are sung. The “Calling Dance (u-u-u-)” song is considered an ode to the Fire God at the Fire God Ritual (Palamal). At the ritual, there are many offerings.
◎ Mibetik (Worship) In this part of the ritual, people sing the “Calling Dance (u-u-u-)” song and perform the ritual with betel nuts, betel leaves, glutinous rice cakes, millet, ginger, wine, spiny bamboo and salt, and send offerings to the deity and the ancestral spirits with intermediary tools including the windmill, tobacco, spinning top, pottery pot, and pottery cup. After the ritual, they incinerate the altar.
◎ Padungus tu Di’tu (Sending Off ) The ritual master will read the decree, and the ritual master, Fire God messenger, and chief of the hosting village will lead the congregation to sing the ritual songs and tour around the altar.