07/05/2017, 14.32
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Chinese goddess of the sea travels by plane

The statue of the goddess Mazu traveled along with those of Qianliyan and Shunfeng'er, her celestial guardians. They  are on tour in Kuala Lumpur part of a cultural exchange to pay tribute to the goddess of the sea and festival in her name. The episode comes under China's newfound religious revival.


Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The image of the statue of the Chinese sea godess Mazu or Matsu, traveling in business class from the Chinese city of Xiamen to the capital of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur has gone viral online.

The goddess, who is part of the Buddhist and Taoist pantheon,  is considered the patron saint of the sea and protector of fishermen and sailors and is widely venerated, as well as in China, in Singapore, Vietnam and Taiwan. Mazu traveled along with the statues of Qianliyan and Shunfeng'er, her celestial guardians. Qianliyan is known for his powers of far-sightedness, while Shunfeng'er possesses the ability to listen to all the sounds brought by the wind, thus help sailors and ships to feel the storms arrival. All the statues come from Thean Hou Temple, which also published the photos.

The trip to Malaysia and Singapore is the inaugural tour of a cultural exchange to pay homage to the goddess of the sea and a festival in her name. It was organized by the Chinese Meizhou Mazu Ancestor Temple.

The statues paid a regular ticket of 2,091 yuan (270,95 euros) after checking in at the Xiamen Gaoqi International Airport and were placed in the front row on the plane, in an enlarged space and fixed to prevent damage from possible turbulence. They were also provided with special passports - Temple staff called this a "special courtesy" offered by the Xiamen Airlines airline - the goddess and her accompanying passengers traveled for more than 2,800 kilometers and escorted by a delegation of over 130 people, were welcomed to another temple, the Thean Hou Chinese Temple.

Beyond the curiosity of the news, the episode is a clear confirmation of what Richard Madsen, sociologist of the religions of the University of San Diego (California), argued in his speech at the AsiaNews Symposium on May 24. Madsen spoke of "China's impressive religious revival today," after 70 years of state atheism. According to the scholar, this return is not just a "revival" or re-invention of the traditional forms of Chinese religion, but it is also the creation and adaptation of new forms.

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