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Procession of Baishatun Matsu Pilgrimage ─Sedan Chair Mounting and Departure

~~ Mountainside Matsu ~~
Mountainside Matsu is worshipped in the Nangan area in Houlong Town . Before the departure, the incense head will put new clothes on Mountainside Matsu before inviting her to get in her sedan chair. After taking Mountainside Matsu to the Gongtian Temple in her sedan chair, believers will put her in the sedan chair of Baishatun Matsu, heading for the pilgrimage in Beigang.

~~ The Sedan Chair’s Progress ~~
The procession of Baishatun Matsu is called the “sedan chair’s progress (行轎, the walking sedan chair)”. During the “sedan chair’s progress”, the parade advances at one time and stops at another time, without any specific pattern. Believers believe that Matsu may exert her magic power at any time during the pilgrimage to direct the sedan chair to a specific direction. At this moment, the sedan chair team must follow the direction instructed by Matsu, either running, stopping or swinging somewhere. It all depends on Matsu’s will. It is for this special charm of Baishatun Matsu that believers believe it is Matsu who leads the parade, rather than they carry her sedan chair. Therefore, as the medium communicating Matsu’s will, the sedan chair team plays a very important role in the parade.

As there is no specific route for the Baishatun Matsu Pilgrimage, when the parade stops at a temple, a factory, a shop, or a household, believers believe that it is Baishatun Matsu who brings blessings to or eliminates disasters from this place. When the sedan chair stops at road sections or locations with frequent accidents, believers believe that Matsu is “handling things”, such as an exorcism or the eviction of demons and the salvation of the grievous souls (Lu, 2007:66). This way, Baishatun Matsu brings peace to the public.

Walking throughout the procession is another feature of the Baishatun Matsu Pilgrimage. It is an old tradition and becomes a significance of the pilgrimage. As life was difficult in earlier times, believers must walk throughout the procession. Although people can use vehicles now, attendees still insist on walking to express their faithfulness for Matsu. Particularly, as the Baishatun Matsu Pilgrimage has no specific route, believers must follow the parade all along. This makes attendees firmly believe that walking with the parade throughout the pilgrimage allows them to feel Matsu’s will and intensify their faith in Matsu.

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