Temple

Mazu: the Legend of the Sea Goddess

The Mazu temple in Dadaocheng, Taipei

Three or four hundred years ago, war and famine drove many people to emigrate from south China to Taiwan. Piling their belongings into small wooden boats, they embarked on the dangerous 100-mile sea crossing. The area is regularly swept by typhoons. For protection, the immigrants would always bring a statue of Mazu, the goddess of the sea, from their local temple. They believed she would calm the seas and guide them safely to Taiwan.
 

Church, temple and childhood

(photo by Joyce Tay)Before I was 30, I never enjoyed entering a Taiwanese temple. The Gods looked weird, wearing strange clothes and hats, some of them were even very dark. They were frightening to me. They were not God. 
They were not kind like my God.

The burning incense in the temple was even worse. It made the whole temple smoky, the smell of the incense pushed me away from the whole religion. I didn’t understand why those people were holding the incense and talking to those wooden idols.


I thought everything about the temple was just stupid: the Gods were not real, incense smelled terrible, the people were ignorant. I didn’t even agree with the way Taiwanese offered the food to their idol God and their ancestors.

Things to do in Taipei, Taiwan: Mazu temple's beer garden

Mazu Temple Beer Garden (photo by Joyce Tay)Mazu temple's beer garden

Did you ever see a church with its own beer garden? Probably not, but in Taiwan people have a more relaxed attitude to such matters.

For example: the beer garden in the Temple to the sea-Goddess Mazu, near Dihua Street. You might think that it's very disrespectful to put a beer garden here, but I would say it must be the mercy of the Goddess, that more than 40 family-run restaurants could make a living by her temple, and the hard-working people could enjoy very good food and beer in her courtyard at a bargain price.

There are many street restaurants around the temple, and people enjoy eating and drinking under the banyan tree in the temple yard. It's a place the hard working people have traditionally gone to relax after work. There are more than 40 authentic Taiwanese street food restaurants and food stalls.
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