TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Taiwan’s Dajia Matsu Pilgrimage Procession, hailed as one of the world’s three largest religious activities by Discovery Channel and included in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list, will take place April 7 -16.
The nine-day pilgrimage will start on the night of April 7 at the Jenn Lann Temple（鎮瀾宮) in Dajia District, Taichung City, where Dajia Matsu is enshrined. The pilgrimage will cover a route of 330 kilometers across four municipalities in central Taiwan: Taichung City, Changhua County, Yunlin County, and Chiayi County.
The procession will come back to the Jenn Lann Temple on April 16.
The statue of Matsu, the Chinese Goddess of the Sea, carried in a palanquin on bearers’ shoulders during the pilgrimage, along with her devoted followers, will visit many other temples along the way.
Every year, hordes of enthusiastic devotees can be seen lining up to “scramble under the palanquin,” during which they kneel down or prostrate themselves while the palanquin of the goddess moves over them as a means of praying for good fortune.
Devoted residents and businesses will set up tents along the route before the arrival of the procession to provide the followers with free vegetarian foods and places to rest.
People who are interested in experiencing the pilgrimage, whether they are believers or not, are welcome to join free one-day, two-day, or three-day organized journeys. However, they have to register online in advance.
Participants who have to stay overnight are recommended to bring sleeping bags with them and take safety measures such as bringing flashlights and sticking light reflective strips to their clothes.
For people who wish to follow the long pilgrimage, they are welcome to do so as long as they are physically capable, and it’s free as well.
For a complete route and schedule of the Dajia Matsu Pilgrimage, please refer to this website.
To register for an organized journey to experience the pilgrimage, please visit this website.
(The following photos are courtesy of Taiwan's Tourism Bureau)