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Matsu cultural festival to open in New Taipei City
【Society】2011-04-06  20:40:30
Taipei, April 6 (CNA) Visitors to the New Taipei City district of Xinzhuang will be able to get a taste of an authentic festival atmosphere when a nine-day Matsu-worship event opens there on April 8, the city's top official said Wednesday.

The Matsu Cultural Festival, now entering its third year, will run April 8-16 this year and will feature a series of activities, including a launch ceremony on April 8, a major pilgrimage on the following day, divination block-throwing competitions on April 9, 10 and 16, a photo exhibition, and an exhibition on Matsu, the goddess of the sea, Taiwan's most popular folk deity.

Speaking at a press conference at the Ciyou Temple in the Xinzhuang, New Taipei City Mayor Eric Li-luan Chu said that hosting the festival in Xinzhuang, in the western part of the special municipality, is meaningful, as it is one of the oldest cities in the Taipei area.

The Ciyou Temple, built in 1686 and renovated in 1753, is one of the country's three oldest Matsu temples, along with the Tienhou Temple in Penghu, which was built in 1604, and the Luerhmen Tianhou Temple in Tainan, established in 1661, he added.

"The festival will be a great chance for participants to find out more about Xinzhuang's history, culture and food," the mayor said.

It is estimated that 3,000 Matsu devotees from 20 participating temples in New Taipei City will join the pilgrimage, which will form a long procession carrying images of Matsu that will travel across part of the district. Traffic measures will be implemented on the day.

Those who are less interested in taking part in the crowded celebration but who still want to express their worship of Matsu, can also turn to their smartphone, as the 20 temples launched an app earlier this month that allows smartphone users to pay their "virtual" respects to the goddess. (By Hermia Lin) ENDITEM/J

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