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Taipei Mazu Cultural Festival

The 2005 Mazu Cultural Festival began with joyous celebration when the Sanjhih Township’s Fucheng Temple’s “golden face Mazu” statue arriving at Songshan Tzuyu Temple on April 23. Mazu is the protector of sea farers and the goddess of the vast ocean from Chinese folk legends. The belief of Mazu is prominent along China’s southern coastlines, in Taiwan, and among overseas Chinese population in Southeast Asia. This year marks the 1045 birthday of the goddess, who, according to legend, was born in 960 A.D., the same year Zhao Kuangyin became the emperor of China and heralding in the Song Dynasty. In 1888, Ching Dynasty’s Governor of Taiwan Liu Ming-chuan ordered the construction of a temple dedicated to Mazu at the location of present day’s 228 Memorial Park. However, the temple was taken down in 1905 during the Japanese Colonization period, and the statue was lost over for a certain period before it was reclaimed and placed in the Fucheng Temple at Taipei County’s Sanjhih Township. On the day of the goddess’s procession, the Commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs (DOCA) Sebastian Liao arrived at Fucheng Temple early in the morning to participate in the procession. Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou and a large entourage of believers waited at the Chengmei Bridge for the arrival of the goddess. After receiving the goddess and placing her upon the sedan-chair, the procession reached Songshan Tzuyu Temple and placed the statue on the altar for worship. After a brief stay, the goddess and her procession left Tzuyu Temple and continued on its pilgrimage around Taipei City. The procession’s final destination is the 228 Memorial Park, where the statue of Mazu will stay remain for a short period, upon the remnants of the old temple. During his address, Mayor Ma pointed out that the following of Mazu in the north of Taiwan is not necessarily ‘weaker’ than the south, which is known for its related pilgrimage events. The Taipei City Government sees the importance of the Mazu religion, and combined the efforts of thirteen temples dedicated to the worship of the goddess to hold the Mazu Cultural Festival, an event with historical meaning. He said that behind the story of the “golden face Mazu” statue is the history of Japanese colonization. 2005 marks the 100th anniversary of the destruction of the original temple, and the 110th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Shimonosaki. According to the Mayor, the return of Mazu to her original resting place 60 years after the liberation of Taiwan is also a historical moment by itself. The Fuchcheng temple’s “golden face” Mazu statue will rest in the altar at 228 Memorial Park until May 2. Between April 24 and May 1, performances will be held at the music stage in 228 Memorial Park. The 2005 Mazu Cultural Festival performance programs will take place during the afternoon or evening each day during this period.