Thu, Nov 08, 2012 - Page 4 News List

Matsu worship enters the Internet age with Web site

By Lin Kuo-hsien and Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Worshipping Matsu, the goddess of the sea, has entered the digital realm in a distinctly Taiwanese fashion, with the establishment of a Matsu Facebook fan page that has already attracted more than 100,000 followers.

The idea was initiated by the Taiping Matsu Fusing Temple in Siluo (西螺), Yunlin County, and the upkeep of the fan site is being done by young volunteers, who include students, photographers and members of a local dance troupe. They have the task of keeping the site current every day, with latest news and interesting happenings, as well as interactive message discussions.

Since its inception last year, fans have linked the site with more than 1 million “friends,” according to Fusing Temple officials, who said the page has up to 60,000 visitors a week.

Data on fans of the page shows that 46 percent are women and 53 percent are men, with most coming from the 24-to-34 age group.

Another temple official said that since smartphones are so popular with youngsters now, the temple decided to start the “Siluo Taiping Matsu” fan page. The temple purchased a mobile signal-transmission car for posting instant updates and a real-time message board service.

Right now the temple’s “Taiping Matsu” is making its annual grand tour through 13 townships in Yunlin and Chiayi counties, the official said. So the volunteers are having to constantly update the site with the latest location of Matsu’s tour, posting photographs and moving stories about some of the Matsu pilgrims, thus attracting more followers to the site.

Chang Fu-ming (張福銘) a volunteer working on the fan site, said the way of worshipping Matsu will not change over time, but through the latest digital technology the temple can create new ways to interact with followers.

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