The annual procession of the sea goddess Matsu enshrined at Jenn Lann Temple (鎮瀾宮) in Taichung’s Dajia District (大甲) drew large crowds that filled the streets on the last leg of its nine-day journey yesterday.
The procession, which reached Fengtian Temple (奉天宮) in Chiayi’s Singang Township (新港) on Tuesday to celebrate Matsu’s birthday and began the return journey later that day, entered Taichung before sunrise on Saturday.
Tens of thousands of worshipers followed a palanquin carrying the sea goddess and other deities to seek their blessing before spending Saturday night in Cingshuei District (清水).
Local residents along the route offered free food to worshipers, and set off fireworks to greet Matsu.
Yesterday morning, the procession circled Cingshuei, and Matsu received representatives from temples in Taipei, Taoyuan, Taichung and Changhua County, with a heavy police presence ensuring that the crowd moved smoothly.
The procession arrived in Dajia in the afternoon, with worshipers lining up along Provincial Highway No. 1 to greet Matsu before returning to Jenn Lann Temple, where a welcoming ceremony was held to bring the deity back to her thrones.
In front of the temple, dragon and lion dancers, martial artists and cheerleaders performed, and parades of deities were held as part of the ceremony, while the temple was packed with visitors throughout the day.
Although the temple said it would not allow the traditional practice of worshipers crawling under the palanquin for Matsu’s blessing this year, citing COVID-19 prevention efforts, hundreds of people did so as the procession traveled through Dajia.
The procession, which travels about 340km from Taichung to Chiayi and back, was designated as national cultural heritage in 2011.
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