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Huge crowds join Taiwan's annual Baishatun Mazu Pilgrimage

  • Date:2023-02-13

The annual Baishatun Mazu Pilgrimage, one of the largest religious gatherings in Taiwan, kicked off in Miaoli County on Feb. 11, reaching a record high of over 113,000 worshippers participating in the nine-day event.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and Vice President Lai Ching-te (賴清德) both participated in the pre-procession rituals, where they prayed for good fortune for Taiwan, including an end to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The palanquin of Mazu set off at 1:25 a.m. on Feb. 12 and the departure was marked by the ignition of fireworks and firecrackers. Worshippers followed the deity, expressing their devotion by chanting "I love you Mazu." The journey, approximately 400 kilometers in total, is carefully planned through divination. A unique aspect of this annual pilgrimage is that the route and stops are not predetermined, but rather determined by the guidance of Mazu. The pilgrimage is expected to reach the Yunlin Temple on Feb. 17. Upon arrival, a fire ritual will be conducted for devotees to bring back to the Miaoli Temple. The procession will begin its return journey on the same day to make it back to Miaoli on Feb. 20.

The annual Baishatun Mazu pilgrimage, which was designated as a national intangible cultural asset by the Miaoli County Government in 2008 and an important national folk custom by the Ministry of Culture in 2010, has been practiced for over 200 years at Gong Tian Temple. Mazu, the Goddess of the Sea, blesses the fishermen with a safe journey during sailing and is widely revered by believers in Taiwan because of her merciful image.