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  The Belief in Mazu  

After her death at the age of 28 on a mountaintop, she became a goddess. Legend has it that as a colored cloud rose from the mountain and wonderful music was heard in the sky, Lin was carried into heaven in a golden pillar of light.

From then on, Mazu’s figure was enshrined in boats to pray for safe voyages.

Owing to her benevolence, Mazu has been given 36 titles such as “Madam”, “the Queen of Heaven” and “Holy Mother” from the Song Dynasty (960-1279) to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

There are a lot of folktales about Mazu, including the following interesting stories:

It is said that one day Mazu wanted to sail across the sea by ship without paddles or sails. The captain dared not sail the ship; Mazu told him to suspend a straw mat onto the mast as a sail. The ship then rode over the waves and carried on swiftly across the sea.

Once, a commercial vessel struck a rock, causing seawater to flood the cabin. When the ship started to sink, Mazu got some grass and threw it into the sea, which miraculously transformed into a raft, attaching itself to the vessel to stop it from sinking.

Another tale tells of Mazu making an iron horse come to life and carry her across the sea. After she landed on solid ground, the horse vanished in an instant. People who witnessed this were all astonished at her magic powers.

Folk Customs

Mazu’s birthday falls on the 23rd day of the third month of the Chinese Lunar Calendar and the anniversary of her death is the 9th day of the ninth lunar month. People hold a series of activities annually on those two days to commemorate the legend.

Folk customs relating to Mazu include sacrificial rituals in Mazu temples, drama performances, memorial ceremonies for ancestors and thanksgiving rituals for Heaven.

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