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The Chaotian Temple (Chinese: 北港朝天宫; pinyin: Běigǎng Cháotiāngōng; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Pak-káng-tiâu-thian-kiong; also spelt Chaotien Temple) is a temple in Beigang Township, Yunlin County, Taiwan. The temple is dedicated to the deity Mazu, the goddess of the sea. Constructed in 1694, it became one of the most important Mazu temples in Taiwan and is known for its extravagant temple architecture. It is visited by more than a million pilgrims every year.
Mazu and Taiwan
Mazu, the goddess of the sea, has ever been important to Taiwanese people, because living on an island makes the population dependent on the sea. Beigang was one of the most important Taiwanese ports in the 17th century. As Beigang and its economy grew, at the same time the temple grew and expanded. Today the Chaotian Temple at Beigang is an important religious site and pilgrimage destination. Beigang's Mazu tours to other Mazu temples through whole Taiwan every year for visits and inspections.
In 1694, a monk brought the Goddess Mazu from her home temple Chaotian Temple at Meizhou, Fujian, to Taiwan. A Buddhist donated and raised funds to renovate the small temple. Six years later, in 1700, a Buddhist by the name of Chen Li-Shum donated the building lot of the temple and raised funds to renovate the ragged small temple. The renovated temple was raised to the "Heavenly Queen Temple". In 1730, the temple was further expanded and became "Penkang Heavenly Queen Temple".
In 1770, Penkang Magistrate Hsueh Chao-heng considered that the temple too simple to live up to the dignity of Goddess Matsu. Three years later the reconstruction of the temple started. In 1854 a number of ranking officials initiated the project for expansion of the Temple into a palace-type architectural complex. The front wing consisted of worship courtyard and east and west chambers. The second wing was for worship of the Heavenly Mother, third wing for Goddess of mercy; east wing for San-Kuan Heavenly Emperors, west wing for Wenchang God, the 4th wing for Goddess Matsu's parents; east wing for Goddess of Childgiving and west wing, Lang God. Several renovation followed in the 20th century.
Beigang Wind Orchestra
The Beigang Wind Orchestra was founded in 1928 by Chen Chia-Hu. On spiritual days the orchestra marches for the Chaotian temple.
The Chaotian Temple also owns a cultural hall, where concert, dances and other activities take place. On top of the building is a statue of Mazu. The Chaotian Temple also sponsors events like the Beigang International Music Festival.
- Hsu, David (27 March 2008). "Beigang’s two momentums — Lively traditions and religion". The China Post. Retrieved 8 March 2014.
- National Geographic Traveler Taiwan. ISBN 0-7922-6555-6.
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