Over 100,000 people flock to worship Matsu at Chiayi temple

2019/04/11 15:57:47 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
Over 100,000 people flock to worship Matsu at Chiayi temple

Taipei, April 11 (CNA) A religious procession held annually to celebrate the birthday of the sea goddess Matsu attracted more than 100,000 worshipers when it arrived at Fengtien Temple in Chiayi County on Thursday.

Worshipers from across the country began gathering early in the morning near Fengtien Temple in Singang Township in anticipation of the arrival of the Matsu statue, which is being carried on a nine-day procession that leads up to Matsu's birthday April 27, the 23rd day of the third month on the lunar calendar.

Among the pilgrims in Singang were Deputy Legislative Speaker Tsai Chi-chang (蔡其昌), Chiayi County Magistrate Weng Chang-liang (翁章梁), Legislator Chen Ming-wen (陳明文), Jenn Lann Temple Chairman Yen Ching-piao (顏清標) and Fengtien Temple Chairman He Ta-huang (何達煌), who assembled to pray for peace and prosperity in Taiwan.

The procession, organized annually by Jenn Lann Temple in Taichung, which houses the Matsu statue, has been in progress since April 6, with the statue being carried on a palanquin on the shoulders of worshipers.

The nine-day pilgrimage, one of the largest religious activities in the world, usually takes a 330-kilometer route from Jenn Lann Temple, stopping at six temples in four counties, before returning to Taichung April 16.

Each year, tens of thousands of worshipers join the pilgrimage, while some line the streets, kneeling so that the palanquin can pass over them as it goes by -- a ritual that they believe will bring them peace and good luck.

As Matsu is the most beloved deity in Taiwan, politicians usually join the annual procession at some point to boost their image and popularity.

This year, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-tse (柯文哲), former New Taipei Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) and former Legislative Yuan speaker Wang Jin-ping (王金平) all took part in the pilgrimage.

Chu and Wang are two of the opposition Kuomintang's (KMT) hopefuls for the January 2020 presidential election.

Independent Ko is expected to also throw his hat into the ring, as he is seen as one of the frontrunners, along with Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) of the KMT.

(By Chiang Chun-liang and Flor Wang)

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