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Devotees commemorate 1,055th birthday of Mazu

This year marks the 1,055th anniversary of Mazu’s birth, the Chinese goddess of the sea who is said to protect seafarers. Worshippers from around the world have gathered in East China’s Fujian province for a grand celebration.

Thousands of people attended a ceremony to mark the 1,055th anniversary of the birth of Mazu, in the city of Putian in Fujian province.

Nearly 1,000 worshippers performed a variety of local music and traditional dances in ancient costumes, before paying respect to a statue of the goddess.

The sea goddess Mazu is worshipped in coastal areas in southeastern China. According to legend, Mazu wore red garments while standing on the shore to guide fishing boats home. She was later granted the title of Tianhou or celestial empress.

“Mazu is a divine goddess who blesses us all. This annual commemoration is really great. It really means a lot that I’m here,” said a worshipper.

There are more than 4,000 Mazu temples in over 20 countries and regions around the world. And there are an estimated 200 million Mazu followers worldwide. The Mazu Temple in Fujian is one of the largest in China. About one million tourists visit the temple every year.

This year, organizers also arranged traditional Min Opera performances. Chen Hongxiang and Chen Qiong who have both won the Plum Blossom Award — the highest theatrical award in the country, are among the star performers this year.