Dajia・s Mazu

Every year around the third month of the lunar calendar, the Mazu Festival of Dajia, Taichung takes place. It・s said that more than a million people take part in the nine day pilgrimage. Today we・re going to Dajia・s Jenn Lann Temple.
We・re on the Taiwan Tour Bus・s Sanyi Wood Sculpture & Da Jia Mazu day tour. Taiwan Tour Buses can pick you up and drop you off at your hotel or major train stations, and are equipped with free wifi, a tablet that has audio and photo explanations of each of the stops in English, Japanese, Korean and Mandarin Chinese. Sometimes you can even request for an English speaking guide.
We are arriving Mazu Temple.
Mazu Temple.
Yeah. This is the center (of worship) of local residents. The older generation come here to seek fortune and also health.
Mazu, a Taoist goddess, is said to protect seafarers. Her worshippers were mostly people who lived in the coastal regions of China.
In 1730, a man from Fujian, China named Lin Yongxing decided to move to Taiwan. He brought a sculpture of Mazu on the boat with him, in hopes that she will keep him from ending up in the bottom of the Taiwan Strait. Eventually he made it across, escaping the fate of becoming fish food.
So Lin safely landed in Taiwan and for a period of time, him and his neighbors worshipped Mazu in Lin・s house. In 1770, they built a temple for her. Renovated several times over, this is the latest Mazu temple, the center of worship in Dajia.
Every year around Mazu・s birthday, which is in the third month of the lunar calendar, a festival is held in her honor and worshippers take her on a nine day, 300km pilgrimage to Yunlin. Some say this is one of the largest religious festivals in the world, as more than one million people take part in it.
Some people walk alongside the procession, some crawl under Mazu・s sedan chair as it passes through. In the old days, it was a way to repay Mazu for an answered prayer - covering the ground with their body so the dust doesn・t get on the sedan chair or the Mazu sculpture. These days people do it as a form of prayer.
In the very beginning, the pilgrimage would go back to Fujian, where Mazu came from, every twelve years, but during the Japanese occupation, people couldn・t travel as they wished. So during the occupation, the destination of the pilgrimage was changed to the temple in Yunlin where Mazu・s parents are worshipped. Over the years, the number of followers increased exponentially, and now over a million people participate in it every year.
Dajia, Taichung is one of those places you normally wouldn't think of visiting, but I think it・s kind of a hidden gem. During the Mazu Festival, it・s incredibly lively. Among the one million people that come are several of my friends and coworkers. They come to enjoy the colors, the sounds, the food and drinks that are put out by local families for people to enjoy as they pass through. Schools, temples, community centers, people・s homes and trucks open up to worshippers who are perfect strangers to spend the night. It・s a great feeling and one of those memories that you would probably remember the rest of your life. You should come.
 
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