Sun, Mar 25, 2012 - Page 2 News List

Dajia Matsu pilgrimage sallies forth

FAMOUS FIXTURE:It is estimated that more than a million people will take part in the procession that attracts visitors from across the country and overseas

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Fireworks go off and crowds fill the streets of Greater Taichung’s Dajia District as the Matsu pilgrimage leaves the Jenn Lann Temple late on Friday evening.

Photo: Chan Chao-yang, Taipei Times

The annual Dajia Matsu pilgrimage (大甲媽祖遶境) headed off on its nine-day and about 340km journey on foot at 11pm on Friday, with more than 100,000 people attending the departure event at the Jenn Lann Temple (鎮瀾宮) in Greater Taichung’s Dajia (大甲).

Amid the deafening sounds of drums, gongs, trumpets and firecrackers, and surrounded by a huge crowd of followers who poured into the small town as early as Tuesday, the Dajia Matsu pilgrimage — one of the nation’s biggest annual religious rites — took more than half an hour to depart from the temple’s courtyard.

A number of political figures — including President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), vice president-elect Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) and Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) — attended the departure event on Friday as Jenn Lann Temple president Yen Chin-piao (顏清標) announced the start of the pilgrimage.

The temple’s administration estimated that more than a million people would participate in the pilgrimage this year.

The procession is set to travel on a fixed route from Dajia, traveling through Changhua and Yunlin counties, making brief stops at 111 temples in 21 townships before reaching its final destination — Fengtien Temple (奉天宮) in Chiayi County’s Singang Township (新港) — on Tuesday next week.

After attending a birthday celebration event for Matsu at Fengtien Temple, which will last about a day, the Matsu palanquin will once again take to the road at midnight, with a series of religious performance troupes taking the lead on its trip back to Dajia.

In recent years, the pilgrimage has become a famous cultural tourism event, attracting visitors from across the country and from overseas, and has also been offering many business opportunities from selling Matsu cultural merchandise.

A special feature this year is that Jenn Lann Temple has provided an Internet service (mazu.gis.tw) teamed with a geographic information system, enabling people to get instant information on where the Matsu palanquin is, as well as providing access to photographs taken along the way.

The pilgrimage procession reached Changhua County at 2pm yesterday, about two hours later than scheduled, because there were too many followers lying on the road along the Matsu palanquin’s route, waiting for the palanquin to be lifted over their body — believing that it would bring good luck and fortune.

Changhua County has mobilized up to 800 police officers to control traffic and ensure the safety of followers along the procession route.

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