The Birthday Of Matsu, The Goddess Of The Sea, Is Celebrated Throughout Taiwan.
More than 1000 years ago, a girl named Lin Mu was born in a port town in Fujian Province in south-eastern China. (This Chinese province is located directly across the Straits from Taiwan.)
From an early age the girl exhibited the unusual ability to forecast the weather. It was a particularly valuable skill as she was able to give advance warning of inclement conditions to local fishermen.
After her death, people paid homage to the revered woman calling Lin Mu the “Goddess of the Sea”, “Holy Mother” and “Matsu”. The latter, a title of great respect, is most commonly used today.
Over the centuries the adoration of Matsu also seen as Masu has become a widespread belief with more than 1500 Matsu temples located around the world.
The belief in Matsu has become a type of transglobal folk belief with more than 100 million followers around the world including Australia.
With almost 900 Matsu temples found throughout Taiwan, the “Goddess of Peace of the Straits”, as she is also known has become one of the most venerated deities on the island.
The birthday celebrations for Matsu, an event normally held on the 23 day of the third lunar month or during April or May in the Gregorian calendar, is a time of unrivalled festivity.
The sweet scent of incense adds yet another dimension to this annual event.
During the course of birthday festivities, an army of devout followers carrying an image of the People’s God’ embark on an 8-day pilgrimage that takes them to many towns and cities in south central Taiwan.
While the birthday of Matsu is commemorated throughout Taiwan a number of provincial towns have especially grand celebrations to mark this out of the ordinary event and celebrate the arrival of pilgrims and the image of Matsu.
The largest of them all is at Chaotien Temple in Peikang. This small and normally sleepy coastal country town is located in Chiayi Country.
This place of worship is held in high esteem because it’s considered the “mother temple”.
Another place to participate in the numerous celebrations surrounding the birthday of this popular goddess is at Jhenlan Temple. Located in the small town of Dajia in Taichung Country, the ornate circa 1787 Taoist temple found here is dedicated to Matsu.
This year foreign visitors will again be able to emerge themselves in the birthday festivities during the Taichung Dajia Mazu International Festival.
Held during March and April, this joyous celebration provides and insight into the indomitable spirit of the Taiwanese people.