What kind of famous events are there in "Pilgrimage by walk"? I am going to introduce you to two major events.
I hope you can enjoy for it.
※ If you don't know what Pilgrimage by walk is, please check the following. ※
There are two major Pilgrimage by walk events in Taiwan which are
[Daji Mazu Pilgrimage]
[Baishatun Mazu Pilgrimage]
We can say both are two leaders in Pilgrimage by walk. They have no equal in this field. Currently, many events of Pilgrimage by walk are held in Taiwan, but just two have many participants from outside.
Dajia Mazu Pilgrimage
This is the largest event of Pilgrimage by walk in Taiwan, and is also authorized as one of the top three terrific religious festivals in the world.
It starts from Dajia Zhenlan temple in Taichung city and walks through to the Xingang Fengtian temple in Jiayi prefecture.
【Dajia JennLannGong Mazu Pilgrimage】
Organizer : Dajia Zhenlan Temple
Starting point : Dajia Zhenlan Temple
Destination : Xingang Fengtian temple
Time : the 3rd lunar month
Period : 9 Days
Distance to and from : about 330km
Admission : Free
Participants : 300,000 people
Address : No. 158, Shuntian Rd., Dajia Dist., Taichung City
Traffic access : 6 min from Dajia station by walk
How is the atmosphere?
It's "Seeing is believing." First, could you watch the video and feel the atmosphere?
How did you feel? I believe you are so excited.
If you have fate with it, you will find yourself in the winding of people. I was also fascinated to join this festival. Sometimes, I unexpectedly remember the scene of the road in Pilgrimage by walk and miss it.
How to join
When you join, you don't need to sign up for it. As long as you have a pious spirit, it's enough. There are also many participants who join as a walking event. As it is not a festival like a religious ceremony, it's easy for people to join.
There are some ways to join, for example, walk, bicycle and motorcycle, but I think the best way to join is to walk.
As the present age, it is very convenient, we can check the position of the portable shrine on the internet. The following link lets us know where the portable shrine is, because some volunteer members walk by the portable shrine with GPS. If you plan to join on the halfway, you should refer to information on it. Moreover, as you can know the past route, if you would like to simulate the way to walk, you can use it.
There are one-day to three-day trial courses for beginners. But they are so popular, so you must apply for it soon after it opens.
The process of Pilgrimage by walk
The following picture is the route in 2018.
On the first day, it will start at 11 PM. You should mind the first day is at 11 PM on 13th April, not 14th April although it shows the first day is the 14th.
So participants have to reach the starting point on the previous day of the date of departure.
After starting from Dajia, the portable shrine stops over in many temples, and heads for Zhanghua Nanyao temple and takes a rest. The second day also involves the same process, the third day reaches the Xingang Fengtian temple which is the destination.
On the fourth day, the ceremony is held, on the fifth day, the last half starts, on the ninth day, they come back to Dajia Zhenlan temple.
When the starting day is approaching, the information is posted at a temple or a place on the route to tell residents about its schedule.
The portable shrine drops in a lot of temples on the route. Participants go together and pray at a temple.
The portable shrine drops in about 30 temples even just on the first day. The time on the schedule is only for reference, it might be two or three hours behind schedule. If you join it halfway, you should keep this in mind.
The reason why the journey is late is "Zuanjiaojiao"(passing through a portable shrine) and "Qiangjiao"(robbing of a portable shrine).
Some of the participants rarely drop in at temples and just go ahead to Xingang. We can take a shortcut in some places on the route. I think it is OK to take a shortcut, it all depends on everyone's object. When you reach a crossroads, you may judge whether to take a shortcut or not.
The time which is very in full swing is starting from Dajia, reaching Xingang and coming back to Dajia. It is good to join just on a return trip, some people who can't take a day off easily, just walk on the weekend.
This is Xingang Fengtian temple located in the north of Kagi prefecture and is one of the famous temples which have a long history in Taiwan.
When the portable shrine arrives at this temple, so so so many people gather in front of the temple, it is so bustling.
Visiting the temple before the event
Some of the religious believers go to Dajia Zhenlan temple in advance and ask Mazu whether they may join or not with fortune-telling.
You don't need to do it, but you better go to the temple in advance and tell Mazu you will join in this year. After January 15th in the lunar calendar, many participants visit the temple.
When you visit, I recommend you to buy a hat, a shirt, a flag and so on. As long as you have it, you can become a member of a group of pilgrimage by walk even on the form.
You don't need to worry about meals on pilgrimage by walk. There are so many believers to offer us foods, drinks and places to rest for free on the way of pilgrimage by walk.
Of course, you can find convenience stores to buy something. When you start, as long as you put a bottle of water and emergency foods, it is enough. From the start point to the goal, there is no place to use money aside from putting a coin in an offering box.
Speaking about accommodation, it is not so easy, because after the schedule is announced, all of the hotels around the route are immediately fully booked.
Furthermore, you might not have enough time to stay at the hotel, and some tend to walk at night time to avoid the hot weather.
So you should look for a place to sleep every day. Candidate places to sleep are a pilgrims' lodging in a temple, a public building and under the eaves of a private house.
Baishatun Mazu Pilgrimage
Baishatun Mazu Pilgrimage and Daji Mazu are the two greatest Activities of Pilgrimage by walk.
There are some differences between Baishatun Mazu and Dajia Mazu. It might be the reason of the popularity of Baishatun Mazu Pilgrimage.
Let's see what it's all about.!
【Baishatun Gongtiangong Mazu Pilgrimage】
Organizer : Baishatun Gongtian temple
Starting point : Baishatun Gongtian temple
Destination : Beigan chaotian temple
Time : around the 3rd lunar month
Period : irregular
Distance to and from : irregular (about 400km)
Admission : 700 Taiwan Dollars
Participants : more than 100,000 people
Feature : It has nearly 200 years of history. It is the event of Pilgrimage by walk equal to Dajia Mazu. It doesn't have a regular route and Mazu decides where to go.
Address : No. 158, Shuntian Rd., Dajia Dist., Taichung City
Traffic access : 12 min from Baishatun station by walk
How is the atmosphere?
First, please feel the atmosphere to watch the following video.
It is the music video of the theme song of Baishatun Mazu, but I think you can understand the air of it very well.
About the schedule
This is the schedule of 2018.
Baishatun Mazu Pilgrimage is different from the Dajia Mazu pilgrimage, so we don't know where Mazu stops over and stays at all.
It doesn't have a predetermined route. It is also the most important feature of Baishatun Mazu Pilgrimage. When the portable shrine gets to a fork, the direction is determined by Mazu's intention.
You might think "though they say like that, people who carry on must decide."
Actually, I also thought so before. If you feel so, please try to walk in actuality, your thought might be changed 180 degrees.
As there is not a predetermined route, we will have difficulties.
How to apply
People join the festival of Dajia Mazu Pilgrimage freely, but Baishatun Mazu Pilgrimage is a bit strict, some say those who didn't apply but walk and don't wear an armband, are not "Xiangdengjiao".
So, you can walk pleasantly with an application, though as long as you have a pious spirit, it's OK.
And many participants ask Mazu whether they can join or not to do a Taoism fortune-telling in front of Mazu which is called "Zhijiao". Some give up joining by a result of it.
The fee of application is 700 Taiwan dollars, which includes a hat, an armband, a towel and a jacket. You can apply for it at the office in the temple, it starts about one month before starting.
About the destination
This is the Beigang Chaotian temple, which is located in Yunlin prefecture. It is the destination of the group of pilgrimage. It is a very famous Taoism temple in Taiwan. When the portable shrine arrives there, it is filled with enormous excitement.
How to walk
You cannot walk in front of a group of pilgrimage, because if you go ahead of a portable shrine, it might go to another route.
At the place behind the portable shrine, there are so many participants to walk. Besides, the portable shrine sometimes walks quickly, sometimes takes a long rest, it means you can keep your pace. It makes you get tired easily.
If so, how should we walk with a group of pilgrimage? I recommend you to walk behind a head flag walking in front of the portable shrine. But a head flag also sometimes walks the wrong route and goes back, because nobody can expect where the portable shrine will go ahead to.
There is one more feature of Baishatun Mazu, it is a simple group of pilgrimage. Its group just has a head flag and a portable shrine and so on. It makes me feel so comfortable. So I like the group of Baishatun pilgrimage very much.
It is almost the same as the Dajia Mazu pilgrimage, please check the part of Dajia Mazu. Many believers and volunteers expect a route, arrive before the group and wait for us to come.
If you apply for a tour bus, you can take a rest on a bus when you feel tired. And a bus driver arranges for accommodation, but you cannot choose the grade of the hotel, almost all the places to sleep are pilgrims' lodgings in a temple and you should crowd together with other participants.
The biggest merit to apply is a sense of security when you have a place to sleep and to take a shower.
If you don't apply for it, you should prepare your mind to sleep in the open. The portable shrine frequently stops at a factory or a private house at night, so it is not easy for us to find a place to sleep. You should prepare for it. But you might find a place to sleep where companies or residents kindly offer us.
An alternative way to join
You can join the event on a bike or a bicycle. If you join by walk, it doesn't mean you have to walk all the distance.
If you don't apply for a tour bus, you also have an opportunity to take a car. There are so many volunteer cars that drive near a group of pilgrimage. If you feel tired, you can take their cars. You should control your tiredness appropriately, please don't force yourself to keep walking.
Points to be careful
If you walk a long distance or under hot weather, your fatigue will build up. So, you should take rest and drink water frequently.
When you walk near a portable shrine or a head flag, so many firecrackers explode all around. You should be careful of it. If you feel something unusual, you should ask other participants' help without hesitation.
3.Countermeasures for rain
It is said that it will rain every year on the way of Baishatun Mazu pilgrimage. So, you should prepare a raincoat and a cover of a bag in advance.
4.Countermeasures for toilets
We can drop in a lot of temples in the Dajia Mazu pilgrimage, so we can use a restroom there. But in Baishatun Mazu pilgrimage, we don't know where a portable shrine goes ahead.
Even if the portable shrine drops in a temple, as there are so many participants walking together, you have to stand in a long line in front of the restroom.
But people living on the route, shops, gas stands and so on are willing to let you use their restroom. If you use a restroom, you should use it cleanly and say thank you after using it.
You may prepare a small present for it. And there are many opportunities to have a small gift from other participants, so it is good for you to walk with small gifts, especially Japanese ones.
If you have a chance, please try to walk. I hope we can meet on the road of Pilgrimage by walk.