The Dajia Mazu Pilgrimage has kicked off at 11pm on June 11 from the Dajia Jenn Lann Temple with the procession expected to last for 9 days and 8 nights. Let's take a look.
The Dajia Jenn Lann Temple Mazu Pilgrimage has begun at 11pm on June 11th and would bypass four cities and counties including Taichung, Changhua, Yunlin and Chiayi. Interior Minister Hsu Kuo-yung paid a visit down Taichung the night before the Pilgrimage and discussed the event with the organizers. In the past, participants often engage in confrontations over who gets to touch the Mazu's palanquin. If the parties involved did not take the case to court, then no punishment would be given. However, Hsu stressed that pilgrims who engage in fights this year would be punished.
If one took the enshrined Mazu, then he or she is committing coercion on the Jenn Lann Temple. According to the newly passed Article 149 and 150 of the Criminal Law, crowd fighting will result in "trial without complaints".
In the past, pilgrims would be seen fighting over Mazu in the underpass of Changhua's Minsheng Road without any rule of law to govern. With the amendment of the Criminal Law at the end of last year, crowd fighting with three people or more is deemed as a crime of obstructing order with a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison. The Jenn Lann Temple also urged people not to engage in fights over Mazu's palanquin again this year.
In the past, all the pilgrimage teams would enter and participate in the event. This year, it is limited to 10 people per team. So this time, it will depend on the quality of the Taiwanese people. As Taiwanese, we will add the human touch to the pilgrimage.
The Taichung City police has deployed 1,800 police officers for security and crowd control this year, compared to only 1,000 officers in the previous years. Hsu Kuo-yung stressed the police will assist the Temple as much as possible in hopes to prevent the fighting over the Mazu's palanquin. Other than preventing crowd fights, the Temple needs to implement coronavirus prevention measures as well. A limit of 800 hats will be distributed to the pilgrims for identification, those without a hat would be persuaded to keep their distance. Although the procession is scaled down from previous years, both the Central and local governments are preparing to the highest standards to ensure that nothing will go wrong.