Firefighters clean Matsu statue ahead of New Year

SAYING THANKS::The firefighters decided to clean the statue as a way of showing their appreciation to the goddess and to seek protection for the coming year

Staff writer, with CNA

Sat, Feb 09, 2013 - Page 4

A team of volunteer firefighters in Miaoli County yesterday cleaned up the world’s tallest Matsu (媽祖) statue ahead of the Lunar New Year, to thank the Chinese goddess of the sea for her blessings over the past year.

The sculpture, erected in 1984 at the Lungfeng Temple (龍鳳宮) in Jhunan Township (竹南), measures 41.5m in height, making it the tallest of its kind in the world, according to the temple.

The firefighters said they threw divination blocks and obtained Matsu’s consent before being lifted up by a crane to clean the face of the goddess.

“The team of volunteer firefighters helped Matsu freshen up for the New Year to show our appreciation and seek continued protection from the goddess in the coming year,” said Huang Chin-ku (黃錦古), captain of the volunteer firefighters.

Chen Chao-ming (陳超明), a Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislator who manages the temple, added that a series of activities, such as cultural events and games, have been planned between Saturday next week and Feb. 24 at the temple in the run-up to next year’s 30th anniversary of the statue’s unveiling.

Matsu is one of the most-worshiped deities in Taiwan. According to legend, she was a girl who lived during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and was deified posthumously in honor of the assistance she offered to Chinese seafarers.