Saturday, April 01, 2006

matsu's eight-day parade The above photo from the Taipei Times shows men dressed up like "generals" for the annual Matsu (goddess of the sea) pilgrimage that started last weekend. It ends today--eight days later. What makes me most sad about the above picture and this one to the right as well is that they are making the Matsu parade seem like a fun cultural event--commercializing it, giving it inflated, animated mascots. Costumers can even download to their cell phones "safety amulets" and track the Matsu parade with GPS devices. They are cute. This makes it fun. But oh how deceptive! What a lie! Matsu and her two protectors are not cute, innocent animated cartoon characters. They are false gods. Idols. Leading people away from worship of the true God. From a Taipei Times article earlier last month: Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to join the 280km procession that will pass through four counties -- Taichung, Changhua, Yunlin and Chiayi -- and visit around 80 temples. Matsu is the goddess of the sea and one of Taiwan's most venerated deities. Matsu is perhaps one of the most worshiped gods on this little island full of idols. Here is what she looks like in one of her temples: Two weeks ago on my way to school, I noticed three small black idols being loaded into a van. I can only assume they were images of Matsu that were being sent to join the parade. In my understanding, once a year, the small idols of Matsu travel to the "main temple" to be recharged with her power--kinda like batteries need recharging. The pilgrimage [which started eight days ago was] led by a messenger wearing one sandal (to represent the fact he is oblivious to his own comfort) and holding an umbrella from which a pig's foot dangles. [Following him was] a spectacular procession of flag and incense bearers, bands, troupes dressed in ancient army costumes, goddess puppets and traditional musicians. Typically, followers seek a blessing from the goddess by kneeling before the Matsu palanquin and letting it pass over them, while firecrackers are [set] off.* Here are images of the parade from previous years: In addition to people laying prostrate on the ground in order to have the godess pass over them, there are lots of firecrackers set off, insence burned, and pigs sacrificed. And, during the parade teenage boys dressed like "messengers to the gods" often "go into trances" (spirit possession) along the parade route. This is not fun and games. This is not cartoon stories come to life. This is genuine worship of false gods. This is idolatry at its worst. This is real. This is evil. Oh, how lost! Oh, how deceived! Please pray for Taiwanese people's freedom! Pray for protection from attacks from evil spirits--many suffer from these. Many people I know experience daily "evil attacks" and nightmares. Pray for the Taiwanese to be set free by the one who is the Way, the Truth, and Life. Later this week...

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