This Taiwanese tradition has stood the test of time. 這項臺灣的傳統歷久不衰。
Taiwan has many religious festivals. Some are short and simple. Others may involve a little food and music. Then there’s the Mazu Pilgrimage, which lasts over a week, covers hundreds of kilometers, and draws thousands of pilgrims.
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The Mazu Pilgrimage is like an enormous birthday celebration for Mazu, who is known as the “Goddess of the Sea.” Featured in countless myths and legends, Mazu is believed to be a girl from a small fishing village in Fujian. Legend has it that she used her spiritual powers to rescue her family members when their boat was caught in a typhoon. No wonder she is viewed as the guardian of fishermen!
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So why is there a long pilgrimage on land in her honor? Several hundred years ago, a family of settlers moved from Fujian to what is now the city of Taichung. They brought a statue of Mazu with them and later a temple was built around it. Every 12 years, worshippers would take the statue back to its original home in Fujian. However, when Taiwan was under Japanese rule, travel across the Taiwan Strait was blocked. As an alternative, the worshippers picked a river port temple within Taiwan as a destination. The pilgrimage has grown in popularity over the years and today is an important aspect of Taiwanese folk religion.