The Taichung City Mazu International Festival promises an array of events this year, including parades with folk performances, exhibits displaying Matsu artifacts and Matsu cultural bus tours, allowing the fervor of Matsu’s annual tour and pilgrimage to last through May, as well as giving the public a chance to become better acquainted with Matsu culture.
Susan Yeh, director of Taichung’s Cultural Affairs Bureau, says that the city has more than 200 temples, at least eight of which consist of architecture spanning more than two centuries of history. Aside from a series of events using alternative approaches to let people take in all the innumerable subtleties of Matsu culture, Yeh says large-scale Matsu theater productions will also take place in the second half of the year. It is hoped that the performance arts will help preserve the Matsu faith and culture, even using traditional theater to promote Matsu globally, providing the world with a better understanding of the sea goddess faith.
Among the series of events that the bureau has in store is an exhibition of Matsu cultural artifacts and creative products at the Taichung City Seaport Art Center from April 13 to May 19. The exhibit will include many important cultural artifacts, such as a 200-year-old wooden incense burner from Leh Cherng Temple, a small drum belonging to the “Nine Villages Matsu” in Hsinshe District, 200-year-old trumpets from Wuci District’s Haotien Temple, ancient couplets from Nantun District’s Wanhe Temple and traditional pilgrimage notices carved out of wood from Wuci’s Chaoyuan Temple.
Traditional folk troupe performances will be held at the Seaport Art Center on April 27 and 28, featuring the Jyou-Tian Folk Drum and Arts Group, which appeared in the recent box office hit Din Tao: Leader of the Parade, the Chungyi Hall Folk Cultural Workshop, the Wei Gin Dragon Lion Martial Arts Battle Drum Group and the Hung Tu Folk Acrobatics Troupe.
To highlight the historical and cultural value of the numerous temples around the city, the bureau will also be offering Matsu cultural bus tours, with 24 coaches and four auspiciously named routes: peace, happiness, blessing and fortune. The tours are meant to give people the opportunity to delve deeper into Matsu culture. Registration begins on April 8, and the tours will take place over the six weekends from April 13 to May 19.
(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)