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The 2015 Matsu Festival: Golden Face Matsu’s Annual Voyage to Taipei City

The 2015 Matsu Festival: Golden Face Matsu’s Annual Voyage to Taipei CityThe 2015 Northern Taiwan Matsu Festival will take place with a ceremony at Guandu Wharf in Beitou District on Sunday, September 13. According to Department of Civil Affairs Commissioner Lan Shih-tsung, the Northern Taiwan Matsu Festival was first organized in 2004. The annual festivity spotlights the “return visit” by the Golden Face Matsu to Taipei City.

Currently, the Golden Face Matsu is enshrined at the Xiao Keelung Fucheng Temple in Sanzhi District of New Taipei City. However, each year at this time the goddess will embark on a trip to visit the site of her previous temple, located in the area behind the National Taiwan Museum in 228 Peace Memorial Park. In a joint-effort to revitalize Matsu Goddess worship in Northern Taiwan, the DCA of Taipei City Government works with the civil affairs agencies from various municipalities and temple organizations to transform the pilgrimage into a public-sponsored festival starting in 2006.

Hosted by the Guandu Temple, this year’s events will spotlight local activities to welcome 23 temple delegations from 9 municipalities across the island. President Huang Cheng-hsiung of Guandu Temple pointed out that the temple also played host to the initial festival in 2006. Guandu Temple is also known as the “First Matsu Temple in Northern Taiwan,” having been established in 1661. This year, the temple will be organizing a comprehensive pilgrimage for the goddess covering land, river, and air. The Golden Face Matsu will be placed upon a traditional palanquin and placed upon the old-style, three-color sampan.

During the kick-off ceremony, the goddess will follow the trail she took in 1911 – from the “Trail of Old Incense” from Sanzhi District all the way to the Guandu Wharf. The ceremony will continue after her arrival at the destination with a balloon-releasing ritual, sending the well-wishes of believers to the open sky. The mayor will preside over an official ceremony at noon to welcome the Pink Face, Golden Face, and Black Face Matsu, followed by performances spotlighting local groups from Beitou District and bands such as Chthonic in the afternoon. There will also be a night event featuring plays and other performances.

Goddess MatsuOn September 14, the procession will leave from the North Gate in Taipei City. Heralded by 50 performers and musicians groups, the Golden-face Matsu will make her way back to the site of her former temple within the premises of the 228 Peace Memorial Park. The procession will travel through Ximending along the way. Performances by the various groups will also take place at the plaza in front of the National Taiwan Museum throughout the day.

To allow locals to pay their respect to the goddess, the Golden Face Matsu will remain at the Taiwan Provincial City God Temple (Address: No. 14, Section 1, Wuchang Street, Zhongzheng District) from the afternoon on September 14 through noon on September 19.