Every year since 1930 the Chinese community of Marysville and the Yuba County Chamber of Commerce have joined together to put on the Bomb Day celebration, also know in Chinese as Yee Yeut Yee.
The celebration is held on the second day of the second month of the Chinese lunar year, unless that falls during the week, in which case the community celebrates on the following weekend. The celebration includes a colorful parade, a fashion show, dance, exhibitions by Lion Dancers, banquets and other entertainment.
The highlight of the event is the firing of the bombs. The bombs are made every year by Tom Lim in Marysville, and have been for the last 10 years since the importing of them was banned after the Communist take-over of China.
A big part of the ceremony for the Chinese is the Golden Dragon, also called Kim Lung II. The dragon is believed to scare away bad luck. Kim Lung II is the third dragon that has been used in Marysville’s parade. The first dragon was Moo Lung who was 150 feet long and took 100 men to carry him. Moo Lung was so famous that Chinese communities in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and many other cities used him in their parades.
The second dragon was Kim Lung, which came from San Francisco in 1969, after Marysville being without a dragon for 32 years.
The most important part of the Bok Kai festivities is the tour and worshipping at the temple. The temple houses several deities, but the center of these is Bok Eye. Bomb day is in honor of the Chinese Water god, Bok Eye’s birthday. Bok Eye, according to the Chinese, means Northern or Dark North (Bok) and God (I or Eye).
Bok Eye is believed to possess powers controlling floods, waters of irrigation and the rains, and is also believed to be capable of banishing evil. Bok Eye was once human and was “promoted” to heaven because of his good deeds. Many statues depict Bok Eye as a barefoot man standing on a conquered snake and tortoise.
The Bok Kai temple that the Chinese celebrate at today is not the original. The first Bok Kai Temple was built two blocks upstream on the Yuba River from the present structure.
It was named the Bok Kai Mui, which means Temple (Mui) of the North (Bok) side of the stream (Kai). When the original Temple was destroyed, the present one was built on a property which was once the site of a bathhouse near the river. The temple consists of three rooms: the main alter, a community meeting room, and a storage room.
This year the Bok Kai parade, like many parades in the past, seemed to be more of a community parade than a religious ceremony. The ceremony prior to 1930 was solely a religious ceremony for the Chinese.
Since the Yuba County chamber of Commerce joined with the Chinese community to put together the parade, the community has put various floats in the parade, but rarely are they related to Bok Eye at all.
Still, some choose not to attend the parade in Marysville because of its correlation with Chinese religious beliefs. Jill Garvin, who identified herself as a Christian, said that she thinks it is very disrespectful to attend another religion’s ceremonies if one does not believe in that religion, to explain why she does not attend the Bok Kai parade.
Garvin also finds it extremely offensive when people celebrate traditional Christian holidays like Christmas or Easter who do not believe in the Christian religion.
The Bok Kai parade and Bomb Day celebration of today is more of a celebration of history and culture. It is a wonderful community event, where people of all religions come to celebrate Chinese history. However, since Bomb Day is about worshiping Bok Eye, a Taoist god, many may find it odd, or even irreverent, to celebrate something they do not believe in.