Saturday, April 14, 2012

Mazu (媽祖)

People in Sibu do not know much about Mazu, but Mazu is a big thing in many places, ranging from Fujian Province in China to Taiwan and all over Southeast Asia. I last heard about Mazu when people wanted to build the biggest Mazu statue in Kudat.

Our lack of knowledge about Mazu in Sibu is due to the fact that we were introduced Christianity. The priests stopped us from knowing some of the cultural practices. Many of the Chinese cultural practices have been banned by the priests. Burning hell money is one of the simple examples. However, talking to 100 Chinese in Sibu, 99.9 of us still carry some kind of Taoism mentality. In fact, Christianity in Sibu has also been very much Chinesenised (if there is such a word). I still believe that Christianity did not ban the Chinese from some of the cultural practices, but the priests (interpreters of Christianity) did.

I always got scared when I saw Taoism temples worshiping God and ghosts or deaths with the food and fruits, or they leave these along the path on my way home. I afraid that the ghosts would follow me home. However, as I grew older, I started to understand some of these Chinese traditions and cultures. I learned to understand it. I knew that our church have bad-mouth the Taoism as a belief in ghosts and evils. In a society where Christians constantly fought for survival from abuse by UMXO, I also started to learn that I have to respect the Taoism believers (although I still could not accept some of the practices, such as burning hell money and feeding deaths with fruits and food).

In our multi-religion society, we should learn how to respect the religion of others as if we wanted to be respected (back to Confucius teaching: Don't do it to others if we do not want others to do it to us). Christianity have been blamed for causing permanent loss to the cultures and practices of many native people around the world, and even the Pope once expressed apology to it.

Taoism definitely have been abused these days. Chinese, a race who love gambling, approached the temples for 4D number. I have seen many, and enough. A law should be set up to ban such malpractice and prosecute the representative of the temple.

I am surprised that we do not hear much about Mazu although we have a Henghua community in Sibu. Mazu originated from Henghua village in China. This was a true surprise to me. Henghua people must be very proud of their culture. Mazu is listed as one of the UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

I saw descriptions of Mazu in Wikipedia:







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