Thursday, September 13, 2007

Goddess Matsu Visits New York for Taiwan’s UN Bid Campaign

As part of Taiwan’s campaign for UN membership, the procession of the sea goddess Matsu—one of the most important religious events in Taiwan—began an unprecedented journey to New York on Wednesday to participate in an international cultural gala later this week.

The Matsu statue belongs to the Fengtien Temple in Hsinkang township of Taiwan’s Chiayi County. The goddess was placed on a United Airlines flight bound for New York where she will join an international cultural event on September 14 and 15. This marks the first time in the 300-year history of the Fengtien Temple that the Matsu procession travels across continents and includes a stop in the US.

A 61-member delegation, including Fengtien Temple officials, a Taiwanese folk art performance group, and a 16-member Matsu sedan chair-carrying team, are accompanying Matsu on her trip to the US.

The procession of Matsu hopes to allow the US people to have a glimpse of the various aspects of Matsu worship in Taiwan, and it also aims at extending blessings to Taiwanese expatriates living in the US.
Before the Fengtien Matsu left for the US, Matsu temples around Taiwan sent their representative Matsu statues to the Fengtien Temple to witness the departure of the Fengtien Matsu and pray for her safe return.

Built in 1700, the Fengtien Temple is the oldest Matsu temple in Taiwan. The temple was built on the site of the final destination of a portrait of Matsu carried from China’s Meizhou area by a navigator in 1622. It happened at the start of a large wave of the Chinese who mostly came from Fujien and Guangdong traveled to and settled in Taiwan.

(Excerpts from Taiwan News)

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