Sun, Oct 07, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Matsu festival to get a high-tech, online makeover

Staff writer, with CNA

The annual procession to honor the sea goddess Matsu (媽祖) in Changhua County is to include a “check-in” Facebook feature this year, providing followers with the latest updates on the procession, organizers said yesterday.

In its fifth year, the Matsu festival in Changhua has become the county’s most vibrant event of its kind, Changhua County Commissioner Cho Po-yuan (卓伯源) said in a message posted on the event’s official Web site.

Chou hopes the event and its various activities which includes religious rituals, traditional plays, fairs, competitions and seminars will also boost tourism.

Run in collaboration with Chunghwa Telecom Co — the nation’s biggest telecoms operator — this year’s event incorporates traditional practices and new technology, the organizers said.

Using GPS and electronic fencing solutions, Matsu is to automatically “check in and out” at each temple she visits on a Facebook page, the telecoms company said. Her followers can then be updated on her latest movements.

This year’s procession began yesterday at Fu Ning Temple (福寧宮) in Changhua’s Yuanlin Township (員林), where the goddess is enshrined, and is to proceed to 11 temples nationwide, before returning to Fu Ning on the eighth day.

The event is one of several processions which take place in Taiwan to honor Matsu, the goddess and guardian of fishermen and sailors. Such events have been observed in Taiwan for over a century. A statue of the goddess is usually carried by devotees on a sedan chair.

Another procession that begins at Jenn Lann Temple (鎮瀾宮) in Greater Taichung’s Dajia District (大甲) has evolved from a purely religious ritual into a national cultural event over the years.

Matsu is one of the most popular deities in Taiwan. According to legend, she lived during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and was deified posthumously in honor of the assistance she offered Chinese seafarers. Chinese immigrants brought the deity to Taiwan in the 1600s and she has attracted many local worshippers since.

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