The Dajia Matsu pilgrimage probably cuts a year or two off your life expectancy. It is at once fire and brimstone and an absolutely wonderful experience. You’ll need earplugs and a face mask. Bring a camera.
The annual pilgrimage starts at midnight, usually on a Friday, when the palanquin carrying the Matsu statue leaves Daija serenaded by tonnes of firecrackers. The cacophony doesn’t let up until she returns nine days later.
The exploding firecrackers, in heaps piled a half meter high or rolled out in strings snaking down the road, will make your ears bleed. Your nose and throat hurt from the clouds of saltpeter fumes and the PM2.5 particulate matter that enter your system through every pore of your body.
On the road, everyone is in high spirits and happy to spend 10 minutes in friendly conversation with you. Temples along the route provide water and snacks along the way. If you want some action and decide to stay close to Matsu, sharpen your elbows, because that is where the world and his wife wants to be.
Run up ahead of Matsu and you can join the long line of devotees that prostrate themselves on the road so Matsu and her palanquin can pass over them, which is considered auspicious. If you do, be sure to take your headwear off. I forgot, and in two seconds, someone had tapped me on the head and said in a rather sharp tone of voice, “Take your hat off and show some respect!”
Source article: http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/lang/archives/2017/04/08/2003668266
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