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HOME > TAICHUNG > ARTICLES

COMPASS MAGAZINE > April 2008

2008 International Dajia Mazu Sightseeing and Culture Festival

2008 International Dajia Mazu Sightseeing and Culture Festival

2008 International Dajia Mazu Sightseeing and Culture Festival

2008 International Dajia Mazu Sightseeing and Culture Festival

2008 International Dajia Mazu Sightseeing and Culture Festival

2008 International Dajia Mazu Sightseeing and Culture Festival

2008 International Dajia Mazu Sightseeing and Culture Festival

2008 International Dajia Mazu Sightseeing and Culture Festival

2008 International Dajia Mazu Sightseeing and Culture Festival



2008 International Dajia Mazu Sightseeing and Culture Festival

By Lishea Zheng Translated by Ann Lee

Besides budding flowers and terrific weather, spring also brings the most important annual religious festival in Taiwan--the Dajia Mazu festival. The 2008 International Dajia Mazu Sightseeing and Culture Festival, hosted by Taichung County Government, will feature a series of events to celebrate the goddess' birthday. The festival started in February and continues to April 28. As always, the highlight is Mazu's holy pilgrimage, which will last eight days and seven nights.

It is believed that Dajia's Mazu goddess came from Meichou, China. Since its arrival in Taiwan, there has been an extra special celebration every 12 years in Dajia, when locals welcome the "Third Mazu" with a pilgrimage to Meichou. During Japanese Occupation, however, strict control over water traffic restricted this tradition and it wasn't until later that a pilgrimage to Beigang was started and religious activity was once again held every few years. This tumultuous, rich history has only made the Mazu festival more important to believers.

During the third month of the lunar calendar, the Dajia Mazu, which is housed at Jhen Lan Temple, is taken out on a pilgrimage, which lasts eight days and seven nights. According to the tradition, there are eight main rituals that pilgrims must adhere to on their journey. These rituals include: a "Rite of Praying for Peace", "Rite to seat the Palanquin", "Rite to Start", "Rite to Reside", "Rite of Praying for Blessings", "Rite of Praying for Longevity", "Rite of Returning," and "Rite of Resettling".

Over the course of the eight days, Mazu makes her way from Dajia to four other counties in central Taiwan (Taichung, Changhua, Yuenlin, and Chiayi), and stops in a total of 21 towns and close to 100 temples. Every step of this 300-kilometer journey is joined by local and foreigner devotees, in all kinds of transportation and on foot, burning incense and offering up prayers, fruit and flowers to the goddess. The festival, which has been hosted by the Taichung County Government since 1997, has really helped to stimulate and develop cultural tourism in the area.

At 3 p.m. on April 5, the "Rite of Praying for Peace" ceremony is performed. After that, a scripture-chanting group will clean the 2008 "Holy Goddess", and the grand palanquin will be placed in the main hall of the temple. This is then followed by the "Rite to Start the Ceremony" at 6 p.m. At exactly 11:10 p.m., a horse-head gong and horn will sound and fireworks will shoot into the sky, marking the official start of the journey.

Major temple stops on the week-long pilgramage include: Nan Yao Temple in Changhua city on the 6th, Fu Xing Temple in Siluo township on the 7th, Feng Tian Temple in Singang township on the 8th and 9th, Fu Xing Temple again on the 10th, Dian An Temple in Beidou township on th 11th, Tian Hou Temple on the 12th and, on the 13th, Mazu returns to Dajia's Jhen Lan Temple. On the third day, when the group arrives in Singang, there is a ritual "Mazu reception". During this ceremony, followers kneel before the grand palanquin of Mazu and request her approval to "move on" and tour around the area for incense offerings and peace prayers.

At 5 a.m. on the fourth day of the trip, the "Rite of Praying for Blessings" is held and, at 8 a.m. outside Feng Tian Temple in Singang, hundreds of thousands of followers will gather in front of the temple, and pray for the longevity of Mazu. When the ceremony ends, everyone will raise their incense and cheer. This is the moment when the religious sentiment is at its highest, the climax of the week-long event. Later that night, the "Rite of Return" ritual begins. This is an appeal to Mazu to render peace to followers as they head home. Finally, after the "Rite of Resettling" is completed on her return to Dajia on April 13, the entire pilgrimage comes to an end.

The number of Dajia Mazu pilgrims and incense offerings is massive. The whole procession is led by police vehicles, followed by reporters and journalists. The pilgrims are assembled as follows: first there is the leading flag bearer, then the leading light bearer, three-saint flag bearers, way-leading drummer, big-drum team, first, second and third incense bearers, the Blessing for Fortune (Fu-Deh-Mi-Leh) group, prince group, heavenly-child group, the embroidery-flag bearers, horn team, the 36-deacons, the ritual group, horse-head gong team, flag decrees, horn leading the palanquin, parasol and, finally, the heavenly palanquin of Mazu. After eight days and seven nights of touring through the villages, the love for Mazu can really be felt all throughout her path.

The Taichung County Government refers to the event as a "festive, religious event to welcome Mazu", certainly an accurate description of the festival, which brings hordes of followers and onlookers onto the streets to welcome the goddess as she makes her way around Taiwan. Apart from the incense-offering tour, there will be a series of seminars held on April 4 and 5, which will include lectures, speeches, and cultural and resource discussions, as well as Taiwanese opera performances. From March 31 to April 3, from 7 to 9 p.m., participants can enjoy a total of 16 local and international artistic performances on the corner of YuDe and JiangGong roads in Dajia. These artistic performances will include a jazz band, several acrobatic groups and dancing.

Furthermore, there will be 21 screenings of an animated movie called "Legend of the Sea-Mazu", traditional martial arts performances, and a "Let's Dance, Everyone” contest on April 5. Finally, there will also be two large events held in the evening called "The Light of Mazu"; one will take place at the Dajia Sports Stadium on April 4, and the other on April 6 at the west-side square of the Tainan City Government building. You can check the listing below for a more detailed breakdown, or go to: http://mazu.taichung.gov.tw for more information.

Tentative Schedule:
April 5
08:30-17:10
2008 Taiwan International Mazu Seminar
Held in the cultural building of Dajia's Zhen Lan Temple
15:00-16:30
Love Dancing Group from
Providence University performance
At the Taichung County Seaport Art Center (Chingshui Township)
19:00-20:30
Animated "Legend of the Sea-Mazu" screening
At Dadu's Huang Xi Academy
18:00-18:50
Performance by Ten Drum Percussion Group
At Dajia's International Spectators' Stage on JingGuo Road
18:55-20:00
"Let's Dance, Everyone" Contest at Jhen Lan
Temple. The performer(s) are the first-prize
winners in street dance competitions,
including: National Taichung First Senior High
School's Street Dance Group, Mingdao
University's Fever Dance Group, National
Chung Hsing University Fever Dance Group,
and Tunghai University's Street Dance Group.
At Dajia's International Spectators' Stage on JingGuo Road
20:00-20:40
Dajia's 53 Zhuang Martial Arts Performance
At Dajia's International Spectators' Stage on JingGuo Road
20:40-21:00
Martial arts performance by Chinese Taipei Shaolinchuando Association
At Dajia's International Spectators' Stage on JingGuo Road
21:00-22:00
Local and international performing
group performances, including: The
Philippines' Happy Family Acrobatics
Group, The National Ulan Bator Circus,
Mida & Friends Jazz Band
(from the Philippines).
At Dajia's International Spectators' Stage on JingGuo Road

April 5-13
8 days, 7 nights: The Dajia Mazu holy pilgrimage
23:10 "Rite to Start"
Performed by Dajia Mazu's Educator Study group
Starts from Changhua's Nan Yao Temple and moves to Fu Xing Temple in Siluo. Afterwards, she travels to Feng Tian Temple in Singang, back to Fu Xing Temple, then to Beidou's Dian An Temple, and finally to Tian Hou Temple in Changhua City.

April 6
19:40-21:40
"The Light of Mazu" evening party
Held at the west-side square of the Tainan City Government Building

April 9
08:00-12:00
"Pray for the Longevity of Mazu" ceremony
Held in Chiayi County's Singang Township Feng Tian Temple

April 12
09:00-17:00
2008 National Chung Zheng Cup for Shaolinchuan & Martial Arts Competition
Held at Taichung Harbor Stadium (Wuchi Township)
08:30-11:30
Folk arts activities, fun-filled children games
Held at Dajia Elementary School
14:30-16:00
Animated "Legend of the Sea-Mazu" screening
At Wurih Township Library

April 13
09:00-17:00
2008 National Zhong Zheng Cup for Shaolinchuan & Martial Arts Competition
Held at Taichung Harbor Stadium (Wuchi Township)
14:00-15:30
Animated "Legend of the Sea-Mazu" screening
In Shengguang Township Library basement.
Dajia 53 Martial Arts, Lion Dance performances
Hheld in downtown Dajia
10:00-22:00
"Welcoming the Return of Mazu" cultural ceremony, plus performance by the pilgrims, and floral car parade
Held at Dajia's Zhen Lan Temple

April 16
10:00-11:30
Animated "Legend of the Sea-Mazu" screening
At Wufong Township Social Benefits Center\

April 18
19:00-20:30
Animated "Legend of the Sea-Mazu" screening
At the outdoor square of Taichung County Cultural Center (Fongyuan city)

April 19
14:00-15:30
Animated "Legend of the Sea-Mazu" screening
At Taichung County Seaport Art Center's International Conference Hall (Chingshuei township)
19:00-20:30
Animated "Legend of the Sea-Mazu" screening
At Tai He Temple in Taiping city

April 26
19:00-20:30
Animated "Legend of the Sea-Mazu" screening
In front of Yong Sin Temple in Daya township

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