The goddess of the sea -- Mazu -- is one of the most popular deities in Taiwanese religion. Temples around Taiwan keep statues of the goddess -- sometimes more than one idol per temple! The faithful will bring those statues out on religious processions, most notably in honor of her birthday. And when those processions intersect, bringing two of the statues face-to-face, it can be a joyous occasion.
This year, two Mazu proxies met for the first time in 14 years!
It’s pilgrimage season in Taiwan, and temples around the island are taking their idols of the sea goddess Mazu out for a stroll. Worshippers from the Baishatun Gongtian Temple in Miaoli have carried their Mazu idol in this palanquin, to Dajia Zhenlan Temple nearly 30 kilometers away.
The palanquin-bearers gear up for the home stretch and make a break for the temple doors. This is the first time in fourteen years that the Mazu idols of Gongtian and Zhenlan temples meet. It’s a historic event, and the size of the crowd shows just how significant it is.
The Gongtian Temple pilgrimage began on Sunday. It doesn’t have a set route… it’s dictated by the goddess herself. She stopped at a restaurant where diners were delighted to have the opportunity to eat in the presence of the goddess.
Mazu even stopped at an elementary school, where students rushed to prostrate in front of the palanquin to receive her blessing as she passed overhead. As the procession left, schoolchildren and teachers alike thanked the goddess, before she headed on to her next destination.