Mazu’s 妈祖 birthday falls on the 23rd day of the 3rd Lunar month. On this day, devotees pay respect to Mazu and commemorate her birthday.
Temples and shrines prepare for this important day by organizing prayers, cultural and educational programs for their regular devotees, visitors and even tourists!
This year, Chinatownology take a look at some of the Mazu birthday events in Singapore.
Thian Hock Keng Temple 天福宫
Thian Hock Keng Temple is the oldest Hokkien temple in Singapore and is dedicated to Mazu. The temple was crowded with devotees who arrived very early in the morning to participate in prayer and cultural activities that run all day long. See article Mazu’s Birthday at Thian Hock Keng
Singapore Kampong San Teng Tien How Association
Another Mazu temple, the Singapore Kampong San Teng Tien How Association, managed by the Cantonese had prepared a big tentage next to their temple for the event. A shrine was set up and opposite it is a big opera stage. Many devotees arrived to pray and to catch up with friends while others wait for the opera performance to begin.
Next to this prayer and stage area is another larger tentage where the celebration dinner will be held. The temple is using Mazu’s birthday celebration to help raise funds to pay for the renewal of their temple lease.
Tianhou Gong, 天后宫
Mazu’s birthday is also celebrated in shrines dedicated to her. An example is the Tianhou Gong where the worship ritual involves Mazu manifesting through a spirit medium.
To prepare for the arrival of Mazu, shrine members went through ritual piercing of their forearm to protect the ritual space. When this is done, preparations were made to invite the spirit of Mazu to descend onto the lady medium.
Once the trance began, members began dressing her and soon the medium was transformed into Mazu dressed in the court dress in imperial style. Along with dragon and lion dances and a long trail of devotees, the entourage set off to perform rituals and to bless the district.
Temples or shrines, the worship of Mazu continues and illuminates the respect devotees, young and old, have for her. And as in most events, this is not just a religious event but an opportunity for old friends to catch up with each other as well as an opportunity for participants and observers to learn about Chinese cultural heritage.
Event date: 18 April 2009,
23rd day of the 3rd lunar month, year of the Ox