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2017 Taichung Mazu International Festival: Revisiting a centuries-old heritage of temples and tradition

Words by Cultural Affairs Bureau of Taichung City Government
Translated by Anna Yang

As the local saying goes, "Everyone goes crazy with gongs and drums in second lunar month, and everyone goes insane with Mazu in third lunar month." This year, Taichung City Government Cultural Affairs Bureau is organizing a series of celebratory events for the 2017 Taichung Mazu International Festival to promote the traditional and modern facets of Taichung, with a total of over 40 musical performances taking place at the city's dozen century-old temples between Jan. 31 and May 20.

2017 Taichung Mazu International Festival

As temples serve as both repositories of traditional folk customs and local history, Taichung City Government will be featuring a number of invited musical groups and opera troupes to perform at these venues to showcase local culture.

Central Taiwan's Mazu Festival is unique in a variety of ways, with this year's 19th Mazu celebration offering visitors and Mazu worshipers fresh concepts via art and cultural events. This celebration has grown increasingly popular by the year and seen a dramatic increase in the number of participants. The festival also earned the top award in the 2015 Golden Service Award Survey for Festivals by CommonWealth Magazine, with the upcoming performances at ancient temples promising to make it stand out even more.

Both mountain and sea side venues for Taichung's Mazu festival will be filled with flavor and the Cultural Affairs Bureau published a popular "The Stories of Mazu in Taichung" book last year to document and present the essence of this event. The year's events will begin on Jan. 31 and end on May 20 with over 40 theater troupes, nationally-famous musical groups, street artists, schools and community groups performing in 12 century-old temples. There will also be Mazu painting and essay-writing activities, welcoming participants of all ages be a part of this culturally-rich celebration.

2017 Taichung Mazu International Festival 2017 Taichung Mazu International Festival 2017 Taichung Mazu International Festival
Left: The Eye-Catching Circus put on a show at Taichung Lecheng Temple and celebrated the Lantern Festival with the audience.
Right: Xiaojinji Dance Troupe perform the local story of "Mo nian and Ping nian" (默娘與品娘) at Nantun Wanhe Temple.

The first event of the Mazu celebration took place at goddess Jiujuanma's site (a god that lives without a temple) on Jan. 31 and drew numerous participants and visitors. This was followed by events at Lecheng Temple on Feb. 10 that moved on to other locations, including Dajia Jenn Lann Temple, Nantun Wanhe Temple and Dajuanhaotien Temple on Feb. 11. Other performances will also take place at Wuqi Chaoyuan Temple, Taichung Wanchun Temple, Fengyuan Tzuchi Temple, Sheko Wanxin Temple, Dali Daifuxin Temple, Beitun Nanxin Temple, and Dadu Wanxin Temple during April and May.

Taichung's Cultural Affairs Bureau is also promoting the fact that the Chio Tian Folk Drums and Arts Troupe, winner of the Taiwan International Association of Arts' Taiwan Artists Award, will be performing at Dadu Wanxin Temple. Ming Hwa Yuan Arts and Cultural Group will also perform at Dali Daifuxin Temple and Wuqi Chaoyuan Temple, with other temples hosting acts like Shenwuzhou Troupe, David Tin and Wu Zhi-hwa, Jinyuyuanjan Theatre Troupe, and Gi Dance Troupe.

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