Sat, Apr 06, 2019 - Page 14 News List

Matsu takes a stroll
大甲媽祖遶境 熱鬧登場

The Matsu palanquin makes its way through downtown Changhua on the final stretch of the nine-day pilgrimage.
媽祖神轎在歷時九天遶境行程的最後一段經過彰化市區。

Photo: Noah Buchan, Taipei Times
照片:台北時報記者巴諾亞攝

Thousands of worshipers will descend on Dajia’s Jenn Lann Temple tomorrow evening as an act of devotion to Matsu, one of the country’s most revered deities, when the temple’s Matsu statue is placed on a palanquin and carried for more than 300km from its home to the Tienfeng Temple in Singang, Chiayi County, and back again.

The nine-day pilgrimage takes place every year in the weeks leading up to Matsu’s birthday, which is on the 23rd day of the third month on the lunar calendar. This year’s pilgrimage ends on April 16.

Temple organizers say the pilgrimage is the world’s third largest and is probably the biggest religious festival in Taiwan, last year attracting over a million visitors. Pilgrims (known as “incense guests” in Chinese) can expect the pious to offer them free food and drinks along the pilgrimage route, because it is a way for residents to repay Matsu’s kindness and blessings.

Matsu will be entertained throughout the tour by performing groups like pole dancers, traditional musicians and dance troupes and protected by the Eight Generals, martial lictors and entranced spirit mediums.

In addition to the pilgrims who make the journey, devotees line the country roads and kneel to allow Matsu’s palanquin to pass over them — a ritual said to bring peace and good fortune for the coming year.

Though the devout will walk the entire procession, there are no rules stating that a person can’t participate for only a day or two. The best days to go are the first day, when Matsu is brought out of the temple to the sounds of blaring horns, booming drums and firecrackers; the fourth day, when it reaches Singang; and the final day, when village gangs have been known to fight their way to the front of the crowd to protect Matsu as she is returned to her temple.

Matsu will leave Jenn Lann Temple tomorrow at 10:00pm. For more information, visit (in Chinese): www.dajiamazu.org.tw.

(Noah Buchan, Taipei Times)

明天晚上成千上萬名信眾大批湧入大甲鎮瀾宮,向台灣最受尊崇的神祇──媽祖──致上虔誠敬意。當天晚上,信徒將會恭請鎮瀾宮的媽祖神像登上鑾轎,由信眾扛起神轎,起駕前往嘉義縣的新港奉天宮,再回到鎮瀾宮,徒步完成全長超過三百公里的遶境活動。

這場歷時九天的遶境活動,每年於媽祖誕辰( 農曆三月二十三日)數星期前舉行。今年的遶境活動將於四月十六日結束。

廟方表示,大甲媽祖遶境進香的活動規模堪稱世界第三大,更可能是台灣最大的宗教慶典。去年的遶境活動吸引了超過一百萬名信眾參與。居住在遶境路線上的民眾,為了感念媽祖平日的關照和保佑,經常會提供免費的飲食供參與遶境的 「香客」沿路取用。

遶境途中會有各式各樣的陣頭與表演團體獻藝娛樂媽祖,其中包括鋼管舞者、傳統樂師、舞陣;八家將、刀斧手(三十六執士隊)、以及被附身的乩童則負責保護媽祖。

除了跟隨神轎隊伍遶境的香客之外,許多信徒也會在遶境經過的鄉鎮道路上排隊等候,依序跪下讓媽祖神轎從他們身上越過──這項稱為「稜轎底」的儀式據信會給信徒在新的一年帶來平安與好運。

雖然虔誠的信徒會跟隨遶境隊伍走完全程,但是也可以選擇只參加其中一天或兩天。最受歡迎的日子包括第一天,可以看到媽祖在喧天的嗩吶聲以及震耳欲聾的鑼鼓和鞭炮聲中,從廟中被恭迎上轎;第四天則是遶境隊伍抵達新港;以及最後一天,信徒簇擁媽祖回到鎮瀾宮。

今年,媽祖將於明天晚上十時整起駕,離開鎮瀾宮廣場。更多資訊可參考鎮瀾宮官方網站(中文):www.dajiamazu.org.tw

(台北時報章厚明譯)

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