1.Zhongyuan Ceremonies Held by Villages Alternately
Guandu Temple is a region temple and also an area temple. As a region temple, the annual ceremonies are held by five villages. Temples in Guandu did not get used to inviting Mazu on 23rd March until Chiang Ching-kuo carried out ‘unifying worshipping’. Nowadays, sponsors of ‘Inviting Mazu’ are offices of Guandu Village and Ide Village; the co-sponsor is Guandu Temple. Therefore, Guandu Temple has not held ‘Inviting Mazu’ excluding for Mazu’s 1000th Birthday Ceremony in 1960 and for SARS in 2005.
As an area temple, Guandu Temple’s Mazu Pligrimage involves five villages: Guandu, Shalaobie, Beitou, Shipai and Chilian; it routes around these five villages, which are in charge of the feast of Ghost Festival alternately.
Mazu Pligrimage is an important comfort event for worshipers. During the activity of Mazu Pligrimage, strokes of the ensemble of gongs along Mazu’s chariot, worshipers let off firecrackers and welcome Mazu on their knees for Mazu’s blessing when Mazu’s chariot passes by. ‘Inviting Mazu’ is a major or minor part of many annual ceremonies here in Northern Taiwan. ‘Inviting Mazu’ is held in Guandu Temple’s Five Villages, Northeast Coast (Shuangsi District and Gongliao District in New Taipei City), Northern Coast (Tamsui, Sanzhi, Shimen, Jinshan, Wanli and Keelung), Ruifang, Xizhi, Pingxi, Shilin, Neihu, Jiaruizhuang, Dadaocheng, Zhongshan District, Haishan (Zhonghe, Yonghe, Tucheng and Banqiao), Xinzhuang, Sanchong, Luzhou, Wugu, Taoyuan, Ilan, Shenkeng, Shiding and Pinglin.
Since worshippers everywhere enthusiastically looked forward to Mazu Pligrimage, Guandu Temple had planned a schedule and the annual dates of inviting Mazu in each area started to become fixed. Every Village had a specific day to apply for inviting Mazu and Guandu Temple would save the statue of Mazu for that Village. It turned out that many villages would apply for many dates of inviting Mazu with a huge local temple as their representative; each village needed to invite Mazu would have a day. Or the villages would invite Mazu together, but each village worshiped Mazu separately—they hold Mazu’s festival alternately.