Visiting Mazu goddess in Taiwan 拜會媽祖
A few months ago I posted about the Mazu Pilgrimage in Dajia, Taiwan. Mazu is the Sea Goddess, one of the most popular goddess in Taiwan, and the Dajia pilgrimage is undoubtedly the most famous plilgramage of this type in Taiwan in honour of Mazu. In fact, this annual pilgramage is named by the Discovery Channel as one of the three top religious festivals in the world. I was going through my photos recently and found that I still have so many from that day, and it would be a shame not to share. So here I am with another part of the Dajia Mazu Pilgrimage.
早幾個月前分享過台灣大甲媽祖遶境回鑾， 最近發現電腦中還有不少拍攝當日情景的照片。 上次分享遶境回鑾到大甲的熱鬧情況，這次看看遶境繼續到大甲鎮瀾宮拜會媽祖。 我到達鎮瀾宮時已非常多人，幸好我站在人群前面，可以細心欣賞遶境進入宮前的盛況。逐漸我被人群推到後面，結果要走到鎮南宮前面攝影隊旁邊觀看。可惜我的個子實在太過矮小，仍然都只是看到人頭。幸好助理攝影師，亦即是老公在旁，可以拔刀相助才不至於錯過這次熱鬧景況。
My last post was about the procession returning to Dajia town after the 9 day pilgrimage. You can read about this in my last post. After they enter the town, the procession make their way to Zhèn Lán Gōng, the temple of Mazu, to pay their respects. I made my way towards the temple to watch this part of the festival. When I got there, the forecourt was already packed with people waiting for the procession to arrive. The atmoshphere here was very different from the street where it was lively and full of buzz. Here was also very busy, but more of an anticipation mood. You can see the two TV crew by the front of the temple getting ready for all the activity to begin. That’s how major this event is!
The crowd was asked to stand on both sides of the forecourt to make way for the procession. I managed to grab a spot right at the front and watched as each group took turns to come through. This is one of the group, and the flag bearer is leading, waving a long bamboo stick with the flag at the top. Bamboos are great for this they are not too heavy and are quite flexible. Most important of all, they are organic and environmentally friendly. If your flag pole snaps on the way, it can easily be replaced as bamboos are in abundance as you march through the countryside during the pilgrimage.
Some of the groups carry their god or goddess from their own temple in a carriage and do a dance as they approach the Mazu. Can you feel the vibrance and energy from this photo? These guys have been doing this for 9 days already so its amazing that they still have the stamina to put on such a great show for Mazu when they come to say hello.
As more and more people came through, I was gradually shoved to the back and lost my vantage point. All my photos were now of people’s head and backside. Not good.
Not content with being shoved to the back (who likes that??!!!!) I made my way towards the front of the temple hoping to get a better position. To get to the front of the temple, I had to go inside through a side door first. Inside the temple was just as busy, packed with tourists and people praying. I managed to squeeze my way out to the front, next to one of the TV camera crew, but there were just too many people. Again, all I could see were the top of people’s head.
Luckily I had my assistant photograph aka husband with me and he took over. Petites like me will understand how frustrated I felt at this moment.
After a while I decided to call it a day at the temple and wandered back out to the streets. There were a few stalls by the temple selling items used for praying. These origami hanging up are made of a special type of paper which has lucky sayings printed on them. They look like a lotus flower and are burnt as an offering to Mazu. The blocks in the photo below are another type of offering.
Or if you fancy, you can also buy a model doll of the different types of god and goddess and take home. Hopefully they will protect you and bring you good luck and fortune.