Matsu temple in Tainan looking for eight ‘fairies’

Staff writer, with CNA

Thu, Dec 26, 2013 - Page 4

The Luerhmen Matsu Temple in Greater Tainan is looking for young women who would like to be “fairies” serving temple visitors during the Lunar New Year holiday — but whether they make the grade will be decided by the sea goddess herself.

Eight women are to be selected on Sunday using divination blocks and serve at the temple from Jan. 31 to Feb. 3, the first four days of the Lunar New Year, temple head Chen Ching-lin (陳慶霖) said.

The women, who will perform “divine” functions, according to Chen, will have to wear traditional robes and symbolically bless prayers on Matsu’s behalf with willow branches and holy water.

“It will be a lifelong honor for the women,” Chen said, adding that the temple has carried out the ritual for the past 22 years.

The campaign usually draws several dozens of applicants, who, according to a promotional poster, should meet the following qualifications: single, 18 to 25 years old, 158cm to 170cm in height and weigh less than 60kg.

However, the application form only requires applicants to give their date of birth and submit a photo, which Chen said would be the major factor in the initial screening process.

The height and weight criteria are simply “procedural,” he added.

Following an initial screening process, it will be up to Matsu to pick the winners, Chen said.

The list of candidates will be presented to the goddess, one of the most popular deities in the nation, three days before they are chosen on Sunday.

The winners will be determined based on the number of approvals they get from Matsu by casting bamboo divination blocks.