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Goddess Mazu Festival

Mazu was born Lin Muniang in 960 AD, or, to be exact, the 23rd of the 3rd lunar month of the 1st year of the Jianlong reign of the Song Dynasty, and died on the 9th day of the 9th lunar month at the age of 28. In some places also called Tin Hau, this was a real lady -- who's name was Lin Muoniang. As a philanthropist she offered medical service for fellow islanders, and with her weather forecasting ability she saved many fishermen from the menace of typhoons. Touched by her good and moral deeds, the local people deified her as Angel of the Sea and Holy Mother who could bring blessings to them. A temple was built and dedicated to her memory on the Meizhou Island, so that islanders could offer sacrifices to her.

According to legend, Lin Moniang was born as the seventh daughter of Lin Yua on Meizhou Island, Fujian. She did not cry when she was born, and thus her given name means "Silent Girl." She started swimming relatively late at the age of 15, and soon became an excellent swimmer. She wore red garments while standing on the shore to guide fishing boats home, even in the most dangerous and harsh weather. Lin Moniang's father and brothers were fishermen. One day, a terrible typhoon arose while they were out at sea. She fell into a trance while praying for the lives of her father and brothers or dreamed of her father and brothers while she was sleeping or sitting at a loom weaving. In either story, her father and brother were drowning. However, Moniang's mother discovered her and tried to wake her, and diverted Moniang's attention, causing her to drop her brother, who as a result drowned. Consequently, Moniang's father returned alive and told the other villagers that a miracle had happened.

Lin Moniang died in 987 at the age of 28, when she climbed a mountain alone and flew to heaven and became a goddess. After her death, the families of many fishermen and sailors began to pray to her in honor of her acts of courage in trying to save those at sea. Starting from Fujian, worship of Mazu spread to the neighbouring coastal provinces of Zhejiang and Guangdong, and thence to all coastal areas of mainland China.

There're also some official titles for Lin Moniang. In Southern Song Danasty, she was given the first Title as "Princess of Supernatural Favour" in A.D. 1155 by Emperor Gaozong of Song. In the Yuan Dynasty, she was officially the "Protector of the Empire and the Brilliantly Outstanding Heavenly Princess". In Ming Dynasty, she was given as "Holy Mother of Heaven Above" in 1417 by the Yongle Emperor. In the Qing Dynasty, she was made the "Heavenly Empress". Her last imperial title was given as "Holy Mother in Heaven" in 1839 by the Daoguang Emperor.

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