The Mazu (Goddess of Sea) Welcoming Ceremony by Kaitai Mazu Temple in Anping District
The Kaitai Mazu Temple of Anping District was founded in 1668, and is the largest temple in Anping. The Mazu statue worshipped in the temple was said to have travelled from Meijhou, Fujian Province of China, by the fleet led by Ming Dynasty loyalist Jheng Cheng-gong, or Koxinga, in 1668, and hence the name Kaitai (the fist). The quadrennial Mazu Welcoming Ceremony is the largest rite carried out by the temple on a holiday/weekend before the 23rd day of the third lunar month. The Mazu Welcoming Ceremony starts with the “Night Patrol by Generals Fan and Sie (responsible for escorting the spirits of dead to the Underworld).” Generals Fan and Sie from Chenghuang Temple (a.k.a. City God Temple) of Anping District report at the Mazu Temple, and go on a night patrol for three consecutive days, three days before Mazu sets off for inspection. On the afternoon of the second day before Mazu’s patrolling, a ceremony is held to invite Mazu to ascend her holy palanquin. Since three Mazu statues are flexible deity statues, and have always been placed on the palanquin, the statues are in fact not mounted to the sedan chairs. Instead, it is the palanquins that are assembled in the ceremony. The night before Mazu patrolling, Chenghuang Ye (City God) stations at the Mazu Temple in preparation to lead the patrol troupe on the next morning. On the day of Mazu Welcoming Ceremony, the palanquin proceeds to Siangshan in Sankunshen (now in Anping District) and stations there facing Meijhou in Fujian Province. A ceremony is then conducted to send Mazu off to return to Meijhou. After Mazu returns from Meijhou, a rite to pin a golden phoenix hairpin takes place at the altar. Mazu’s palanquin then parades through Sankunshen Village and the fifth redevelopment zone and spends one night at the temporary resting place. The next day, the palanquin moves onto the six villages in Anping and at last returns to her original seat in the temple.