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Taipei Tea Guild also Worships Sea Goddess

10/14/2011

While it is no surprise that seafaring people by and large worship the Goddess Matsu, the 120-year-old Taipei Tea Merchants Association's tribute to the deity in addition to the Tea Sage Lu Yu is intriguing.
Each year, members of the tea merchants association will offer ancestral money, incense, fruit, and other offerings to commemorate Lu Yu's birthday on the 22nd day of the ninth lunar month, which this year corresponds to October 18 on the Western calendar. They also recite various incantations to thank Lu Yu and Matsu for ensuring their safety and to pray for further blessings from the sage and the goddess.

Wang Min-chao, the chairman of the association, says that the origins of the tea industry paying tribute to Matsu dates back to the 1850s and 1860s, when the business was thriving in Taipei’s Dadaocheng area along with many tea workers being hired from Fujian in mainland China. As the workers had to cross the extremely risky Taiwan Strait, they naturally turned to pray to Matsu for protection. The merchants then also paid their respects to Matsu to protect the vessels that carried their tea cargo on open waters.
Wang says that while a statue of Matsu from a Dadaocheng temple devoted to the goddess is paraded around each year on the 23rd day of the third month of the lunar calendar, the tea merchants association will not hold a celebration to steal the thunder of those festivities. Rather, they designated a different day to paid tribute to the goddess.
Wang says that, led by the head of Taipei County's Pinglin Township, representatives of the Baozhong tea-based township, which is also an important tea source for tea merchants in Taipei area, moved the spirit of Matsu from the tea merchants association in Dadaocheng to Pinglin ten years ago.
Wang recalls that on the day before the spirit came back to its homebase in Taipei to attend the annual parade the next year, it was raining heavily, but the downpour stopped the moment the spirit’s motorcade reached Yanping North Road Section 2, where the association is located, fair weather appeared for two hours until the statue finished its homecoming ceremony inside the association, amazing many on the scene.




 
   

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