There are diverse religions practiced in Taiwan (Also read: Taiwanese Temple Culture) like Buddism, Taoism, Christianity, Catholicism, and Islam. According to an unofficial estimate, Mazu believers are up to 140 millions, which covers more than 60 percent of the population in Taiwan. Dajia Mazu pilgrimage is the biggest Mazu celebration held annually and has the longest history in Taiwan.(You may also like－ OH MY GOD! : A culture tour with a deep insight for Taiwanese religion.)
Taiwan has the highest density of Mazu temples with more than 850 temples. In Taiwan, we have the saying goes; “Mazu March Mania” (Also read:Mazu mania: Free food, great parties. Wait, this is a religious festival?) Mazu is a Chinese goddess the sea. In the 18th century, many Fujian immigrants moved to Taiwan by crossing the dangerous Taiwan Strait. To thank Mazu for arriving Taiwan safely, the believers hold the Mazu pilgrimage (Also read: The Mazu Pilgrimage Experience). In this devotion journey, pilgrims escort the Mazu statue by holding palanquin walking around different cities to celebrate Mazu’s birthday in March of Chinese lunar calendar and hope the Mazu will protect them for the whole new year. This year, people will start this celebration from April 7th to 16th. The pilgrimage route will start from Dajia, Taichung, Changhua, Chiayi, to Yunlin, and return to Dajia.
In the Departure of the Procession, the Dajia Zhenlan temple will hold a firework show around Dajia River. With the noise of firecrackers and vibrant firework show in the sky, this eight-lane bridge will be jam-packed with hundreds of thousands of pilgrims and spectators. After this ceremony, the pilgrimage officially starts. Along with this journey, you can find warmth and friendliness from the Taiwanese. Local residents provide free foods and drinks to followers like herbal cake with sliced radish, mochi, and grass jelly. Also, you can experience the Roadside banquet of Taiwanese cuisine. But please mark that the provided food is vegetarian. Followers can’t eat meat until the return route. If you want to participate in the pilgrimage, you can start eating vegetarian food three days before.
In this journey of devotion, you can experience the local color of Taiwan like lion dance, Taiwanese Electric Flower Car, glove puppetry, and Taiwanese opera. This long-lived religious event also develops a unique culture—grabbing Mazu. According to the legend, crawling under and touching the palanquin will bring good luck for a whole new year. Therefore, local groups grab Mazu for attracting good luck for its community in Changhua.
In the pilgrimage, you will find some big idol of the Guard Gods. The idols are operated manually. People have to carry the idol during the parade. If you can’t imagine how difficult it can be, watch the video below.
For those who want to have an in-depth tour in Taiwan, Dajia Mazu pilgrimage can definitely meet your satisfaction to learn Taiwan local culture. If you want to join this celebration, don’t forget to have the blessed flag along the pilgrimage and have the temple stamp on it. Apart from the aforementioned information, please find out and follow etiquettes before you take part in this religious event. To have a more detailed travel plan that suits your traveling date, Justaiwantour also provides customized tours. Have fun in this inspiring culture journey.