By TTNews Reporter Chiu, Wei-Cheng
TAINAN, TAIWAN (TTNews) – The belief of Mazu is deeply rooted in Taiwan. In the preceding days of Mazu’s birthday, all the temples dedicated to Mazu will pay a visit to the Grand Queen of Heaven Temple in Tainan to pray for great success. Nestled on Lane 227, Sec.2, Yongfu Road in Tainan, the Grand Queen of Heaven Temple was the very first Mazu temple built by the government.
According to the temple history records, the deity worshipped in the Grand Queen of Heaven Temple is Mazu, the goddess of sea, which is the most worshipped god in the Taiwanese society. The Grand Queen of Heaven Temple, formerly known as the Heavenly Empress Temple, was originally the palace of Emperor Ningjing of the Ming Dynasty.
In 1661, when the Emperor Ningjing traveled to Taiwan, he found that Mazu was immensely worshipped by the Taiwanese people. For the sake of peace between China and Taiwan, he requested to have his palace, the Ningjing Palace, rebuilt into a Mazu temple. Due to its prestigious statue, the annual spring and autumn rituals of the government used to take place in the temple.
The grand-sized eight-feet Mazu statue with a golden face is the most distinguished feature of the temple. The Grand Queen of Heaven Temple was designated as Class I Historical Site for its specific historical and cultural significances. The temple also enjoys a prestigious state and popularity ever since it was built nearly four hundred years ago.
During the Lunar New Year, the Grand Queen of Heaven Temple will host a traditional ritual of crawling under the sedan chair. Followers deeply believe that after knocking the large gong, crawling under the sedan chair of Mazu and praying to Mazu, the deity will bestow a peaceful and prosperous year upon them. They will also write down their wishes on the card and hang it on the wall.
Apart from praying for all their wishes come true, visitors are also drawn to nearby eateries and snack shops’ delight, such as Danzih noodle, pork stuffed meatball, squids in thick starched soup, oyster omelette, coffin toast, etc. In the meantime, there are plenty of well-known historic sites and tourist attractions worth a visit as well.
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