Local irrigation agencies plan to turn to sea goddess Matsu (媽祖) for help resolving a drought, in a collaboration with one of Taiwan’s largest Matsu temples, Jenn Lann Temple in Taichung’s Dajia District (大甲), the Council of Agriculture’s Irrigation Agency said yesterday.
The temple is to hold a ceremony with the agencies today, and Matsu would hopefully hear people’s prayers for rain, as many believe that she has the ability to send rain after long droughts, the temple said.
The ceremony, for which the temple requires participants to wear white clothes, is to run from 9am to 11am, it said.
Photo: Chang Hsuan–che, Taipei Times
More than 2,000 people had as of yesterday signed up for the ceremony, it said, adding that among the participants would be many farmers who are waiting for the rainy season to start so that they can start planting.
The drought was in part due to no typhoons hitting Taiwan last year, the first time since 1964, the temple said.
The ceremony would only be the fourth rain prayer ceremony held at the temple since its founding in 1730, it said.
The first ceremony was held during the Qing Dynasty, the second during the Japanese colonial period and the third in 1963, the temple added.
About one hour after the 1963 ceremony, rain started to fall, and it is hopeful that Matsu would also help reserve this year’s drought, it said.
However, temple chairman Yen Ching-piao (顏清標) said that he was not sure whether the ceremony would lead to the timely onset of seasonal rain. Minister of Economic Affairs Wang Mei-hua (王美花) said that the ceremony was aimed to comfort the public.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs would continue to coordinate water supply for farmers and science parks, which have been the top water users.
Since last year, Taiwan has been facing a serious water shortage, particularly in Miaoli County, Taichung and Hsinchu City, Water Resources Agency data showed.
Water levels in many reservoirs in central and southern Taiwan have dropped to below 20 percent of capacity, the data showed.
Matsu, also known as Tian Hou (天后, Queen of Heaven), is a deity who has been worshiped since at least the 12th century. Originally from southeastern China’s Fujian Province, she was a Fujianese shamaness believed to have divine powers to protect fishers and seafarers.
Over the centuries, Matsu worship spread throughout China’s coastal regions and to Chinese-speaking communities in Southeast Asia. The belief in Matsu as benevolent protector of all people was brought to Taiwan by Ming Dynasty settlers.
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