Two weeks ago the plot of wasteland opposite where I live suddenly sprang into life. Trucks full of bamboo poles arrived. People came. Cranes and trucks and people and – well, action! One week later, and this was the view from my front gate last Sunday….
Happening now right outside my house is the ongoing construction of a huge 4-storey structure, the site of a forthcoming 醮 (pronounced ‘jiaò) and loosely translated as meaning a Taoist Ritual. Copy this character ‘醮’ into Google images and you’ll see plenty of examples of what it might look like in a few weeks time! Now 6 days later, and this is the same scene this morning in the pouring rain…
Our little town of Sanzhi 三芝 up here on the NW coast of Taiwan has as its centrepiece a temple honouring Matzu (Mazu / Matsu), Goddess of the Sea. The temple’s official Chinese name is 三芝小基隆福成宮 Fu-Cheng Gong, and it was constructed in 1917. So this year there are huge Centenary Celebrations planned, scheduled for November 15-19, coinciding with the new moon and start of the 10th lunar month. Preparations are well under way, which is why that huge structure is going up outside my house. There’s also large archways at either end of the main road leading into and out of Sanzhi. This is the publicity notice…
The temple is surrounded by market stalls all day every day, but specially at the weekends. It’s the water bamboo season, so lots of people are selling their produce, even in the pouring rain and strong wind – which is coming from the north, so it’s gonna get cold! This was the temple area this morning – the lady with the wheelbarrow is selling water bamboo. It’s like a kind of leek, and the local specialty in Sanzhi area.
Now it’s the time of the full moon, and today and tomorrow Matzu and all the deities and idols from the temple are off on a tour around the area, offering blessings to those who worship as they pass by, accompanied by at least 2 trucks of people playing very loud trumpets and cymbals and gongs and bells…. here they are!
This was the scene outside the temple this morning as I passed by – in the rain and wind. Inside the temple the deities were being covered up in plastic bags to keep them dry, then loaded onto the trucks….
But I was really at the market on my home from early morning exercise in the rain, to get some fruit from my nice fruit lady and her husband…..
Ah Sanzhi, always full of colour and always something happening!
PS Updated Monday evening, tonight ~ and the view from outside our front gate now looks like this…