Dajia Pilgrimage in Taiwan 台灣媽祖遶境回鑾 (includes video)
Last weekend I went to the final day of the Dajia Mazu Pilgrimage in Taiwan. Mazu is the Sea Goddess and one of the most popular goddess in Taiwan. Each year in the third month of the Lunar calendar, there are lots of parades and all over Taiwan to celebrate her birthday. The one from Dajia is undoubtedly the most famous of them all.
The Dajia Mazu Pilgrimage is a 330Km long procession starting and ending at the Zhenlan Temple in Dajia. It lasts 9 days and covers over 4 counties, 21 townships, many villages and around a hundred temples on the way. Every year there are tens of thousands of followers on the pilgrimage, some who attend for one or a few days and many for the entire duration.
遶境從大甲鎮南宮出發，整個行程長達 9天，走330公里經過4個縣21個鄉鎮及無數鄉村及寺廟，最後回鑾返到鎮南宮。 每年的遶境都有數以上萬計的信眾跟隨，有些可能會跟着走一兩天，但有很多會行足全程。
As soon as I got off the bus, naturally I just followed the crowd. I could hear firecrackers going off nearby and the sound of drum. I turned into a street and a bit further along was a small stage. This is where Dajia welcomes the procession back home.
當天下了公車後，我跟隨人群往市內走，從遠處聽到不少鞭炮和鼓聲。 我轉入一條很熱鬧的街道繼續往前走，見到街角那當天下了公車後，我跟隨人群往市內走，從遠處聽到不少鞭炮和鼓聲。 我轉入一條很熱鬧的街道繼續往前走，見到街角那裡搭建了一個神壇，是大甲歡迎遶境回鑾前一個必經的地點。
As the procession was coming towards the stage, firecrackers were thrown onto the ground. This is traditionally used to scare off the evil spirits. I was busy taking photos and hadn’t prepared any ear plugs so could only keep my mouth open to protect my ears. Imagine what it was like for the performers who were marching right up to the firecrackers.
巡遊隊往壇前走，工作人員就在地上燃點鞭炮保平安。 我在忙著拍照又沒準備耳塞，唯有張開嘴巴保護耳朵。 巡遊隊員要一直往鞭炮前進，可想而知他們是何等辛苦。
Every group moved slowly towards the stage to pay their respects. Some were carefully carrying the god from their temple.
Others sent a team of Gods.
And some were doing a dragon dance. Here’s the ladies and men’s dragon dance team.
Throughout the day I was so touched by everyone’s spirit and energy. From the performers who were carrying their almighty god and heavy props under the scorching sun, the support team who kindly moved aside so I could take a better shot, the volunteers handing out free food and drinks to everyone, the marshals directing traffic and crowd flow to ensure our safety, and not to mention the support and encouragement from all the crowd making this one of the best day outs I’ve had in Taiwan.
If you can feel the great atmosphere from these photos, then you have to check out the video I took during the day. It starts off with a spectacular firecracker display, then there are the young lads carrying the god on their shoulders doing their perfectly choreographed routine, and it finishes off with a stunning dragon dance which is just too good to miss. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did.