每日跟讀#582: Matsu takes a stroll
Thousands of worshipers will descend on Dajia’s Jenn Lann Temple tomorrow evening as an act of devotion to Matsu, one of the country’s most revered deities, when the temple’s Matsu statue is placed on a palanquin and carried for more than 300km from its home to the Tienfeng Temple in Singang, Chiayi County, and back again.
The nine-day pilgrimage takes place every year in the weeks leading up to Matsu’s birthday, which is on the 23rd day of the third month on the lunar calendar. This year’s pilgrimage ends on April 16.
Temple organizers say the pilgrimage is the world’s third largest and is probably the biggest religious festival in Taiwan, last year attracting over a million visitors. Pilgrims (known as “incense guests” in Chinese) can expect the pious to offer them free food and drinks along the pilgrimage route, because it is a way for residents to repay Matsu’s kindness and blessings.
Matsu will be entertained throughout the tour by performing groups like pole dancers, traditional musicians and dance troupes and protected by the Eight Generals, martial lictors and entranced spirit mediums.
In addition to the pilgrims who make the journey, devotees line the country roads and kneel to allow Matsu’s palanquin to pass over them — a ritual said to bring peace and good fortune for the coming year.
Though the devout will walk the entire procession, there are no rules stating that a person can’t participate for only a day or two. The best days to go are the first day, when Matsu is brought out of the temple to the sounds of blaring horns, booming drums and firecrackers; the fourth day, when it reaches Singang; and the final day, when village gangs have been known to fight their way to the front of the crowd to protect Matsu as she is returned to her temple.
Matsu will leave Jenn Lann Temple tomorrow at 10:00pm. For more information, visit (in Chinese): www.dajiamazu.org.tw.
Source article: http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/lang/archives/2019/04/06/2003712865
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