竹南媽祖遶境 一場與信仰的誓約 | Zhunan, Matsu pilgrimage – a testament of faith

【看英文中國郵報學英文】佈滿紅磚瓦的中港慈裕宮坐落於苗栗縣竹南鎮大營路上,在熙攘的小吃攤販和便利商店對面。信徒在這裡祭拜媽祖,祈求海上平安,一晃眼也走過了三個世紀。現在,放眼望去整條大營路上擠滿人潮,當地人、音樂演奏者、表演者、政客都簇擁著等待繞境活動開始。不過早上七點鐘,上千名來自竹南鎮的熱情民眾已開始著手準備,期盼復甦這個曾一度被遺忘的慶典。

Zhonggang Cihyu Temple (中港慈裕宮), a red-bricked structure built over 300 years ago as a testament of faith to Matsu, the goddess of the sea, stands resolute on the opposite side of food stalls and a convenience store.

Daying Road (大營路) and the temple’s front courtyard are now brimming with locals, musicians, performers, and politicians who await the start of the procession. It’s seven in the morning on Sep. 1, and thousands in Zhunan Township of Miaoli County have been preparing for the revival of this once forgotten celebration.

慈裕宮是台灣三個最古老的道廟之一,人稱台灣三媽祖,其外型構造十分特殊。活動籌辦人陳萬典先生解釋道:「慈裕宮的內部分別由兩名當時的建築大師設計,一人負責左半邊一人負責右半邊。兩人直到廟宇完工前都沒有向對方透露自己的設計,一直在不知情的情況下工作,因此最後這個建築內便容納了兩種截然不同的風格。」陳萬典先生一直致力於維護台灣文化遺產,端看現場人潮便知道和他理念相同的人不在少數。才八點鐘,數以千計的信眾便在廟前大排長龍,從巷頭擠到巷尾。

Cihyu is one of the three oldest Taoist temples in Taiwan, collectively known as “The Three Matsus” (台灣三媽祖), but its structure is quite unique.

“The interior was left to two famous master designers at the time, but neither was to reveal their work until after completion of the structure. So, the temple was divided into left and right sides, and each designer went to work without knowing what the other was up to,” explains Cloud Chen (陳萬典), one of the organizers passionate about maintaining Taiwan’s cultural heritage.

“The result is a single temple structure, but with two very different designs which reflect the personal style of each master,” Chen adds. He’s not alone, though. By eight o’ clock, an immense line of faithful revelers, thousands upon thousands, fill the two-lane street at the temple’s entrance and neighboring roads.

「距離上次舉行這個盛典已是二十二年前了,藉由這個年度活動,我們期望將幾乎被遺忘的傳統文化重現在世人眼前。感謝五十一座地方寺廟共同參與籌備,齊心復甦這場宗教盛事。」竹南鎮長方進興說道。繞境的傳統始於很久以前,當時竹南只有53座村落,分別屬於閩南、客家、原住民等不同族群。由於村民械鬥衝突頻繁,而海上的守護神媽祖又受到各村落一致的尊崇,因此便藉由繞境活動走訪每個村落的寺廟,試圖透過共同的宗教信仰將各族群凝聚在一起。

“After 22 years since last holding this ceremony, we’ve decided to bring back this annual event, in hopes to preserve traditions that are in danger of being forgotten,” says Fang Chin-hsing (方進興), the township chief, “51 local temples have joined to revive this festive religious pilgrimage.”

The procession was originally started back when Zhunan Township was only a cluster of 53 separate villages, each belonging to a different ehtnic group: Minnan, Hakka, or Aboriginals. It was a time of frequent armed conflicts between the villages, so this peaceful pilgrimage was organized to visit each village’s temple and pay respects to the goddess that they all revered equally, Matsu, the protector of fishermen and sailors.

這場盛會的核心亮點是神轎,各個神像就擺放在這裝飾精美的轎子上。神轎的裝飾設計不輸寺廟的精細奢華,上面插著色彩豐富的旗幟,註明各個神轎來自的寺廟名稱。神轎底部鑲著竹桿,通常由四個人共同扛在肩膀上,或放在推車上繞行。神轎上掛著的鈴鐺隨著抬轎人行徑的步伐發出清澈、規律的叮噹聲響。

One of the most central features of this event are the gods’ palanquins (神轎), highly decorated sedan chairs of different sizes where the idols are placed. The designs are as varied and extravagant as the wood and stone work within each temple visited, and colorful banners attached to the palanquins show the name of the temple it hails from.

Strapped above a framework of bamboo, the palanquins are either carried on the shoulders of four individuals or carted around on wheels. Either way, the bells attached all around these seats jingle rhythmically, following the pace of the four carrier’s choreographed steps.

繞境活動持續一整天,這些神轎挨個在鎮上每個寺廟停留,向媽祖以及廟方表示敬意。當神轎來到寺廟入口時,抬轎人員會猛力晃動神轎,並快速的朝向香爐前進再後退表示敬意,接著便繼續向下個廟宇前進。

Throughout the day-long procession, these palanquins stop at every temple in the township one-by-one to pay their respects to Matsu and the temple’s community. As a palanquin approaches each temple’s entrance, it is rattled vigorously and charged forward towards an urn holding incense and offerings for the goddess, and then continues its path onwards to the next temple.

除了神像與神轎外,會場還有許多精彩看點。來自其他城市的高校樂團與各組織穿上傳統的廟會服裝,以傳統樂器如單簧管、堂鼓、和鈸演奏音樂。樂隊敲鑼打鼓的繞行市中心,奏出獨特的民俗音樂。

Holy idols in majestic sedan chairs aren’t the only components to the procession. High school bands and organizations from other cities dress in matching uniforms and play traditional instruments, such as high-pitched Chinese clarinets, rumbling tanggu drums, and chiming hand cymbals.

Floats and cars containing massive disk-shaped drums and silver-plated gongs parade through the entire center of the city, while each playing their own distinctive music.

在人潮中還能看見神將戴著浮誇、怪誕的面具,身穿長袍一個接一個地前進,手臂在身體兩側誇張的揮舞。

Somewhere along the winding crowds are the large holy generals (神將) with their expressive, sometimes grotesque-like, facial features. These tall figures in color-coded robes roam in a single-file line, mechanical arms flailing hypnotically forwards and backwards.

夜幕低垂,竹南鎮街道上還飄散著煙火與鞭炮的煙哨味,那些遊行隊伍終於返回到起點中港慈裕宮,歡騰的向媽祖獻上最後的敬意。每一組抬轎人員都將神轎向廟內的媽祖神像傾斜,恭敬的鞠躬後便以幾乎要折斷竹桿的力道,劇烈的晃動神轎,以此展現對海上守護神媽祖最深信念。

As night falls on the town whose streets still have a lingering smell of firecrackers and fireworks, each of the aforementioned groups returns to where they once started, Zhonggang Cihyu Temple, to pay their final respects to Matsu in a very rambunctious fashion.

Each team carrying the god palanquins tips it over towards the Matsu statues within the temple, in a final bow of reverence, and then violently shakes the bamboo poles in an attempt to finally snap them, thereby demonstrating the depth of their faith towards the goddess.

晚上九點儀式收尾時,每組抬轎人員輪流在媽祖像前進行最後一輪表演,用加倍的心力將一整天的儀式重新演繹一遍。音樂、鞭炮、舞蹈的表演力度在此刻達到顛峰,只見神將們舞動的更加癲狂,四周飄灑著代表金錢的金紙。隨後,電子音樂一下,年輕的信眾們也跟著跳起舞,而電子音樂是為吸引年輕人一同參與這個傳統的儀式。相較於廟會外的狂歡氛圍,廟會內舉行閉幕典禮時卻異常的莊嚴肅穆,一動一靜成鮮明對比。

Every group has their chance to give one final performance before her, every ritualistic act that had occurred repeatedly throughout the day is now given twice the dedication and double the ferocity.

The music, firecrackers, and dancing are all reaching their climax as the final hour of the ceremony closes at around nine o’ clock in the evening. Gold-colored paper resembling money falls over the holy generals as they now dance more ecstatically.

Younger revelers perform dances with modern electronic music, an addition made to help encourage the younger generations to participate in this otherwise traditional ceremony.

黃色的燈籠象徵媽祖身著的黃袍,在搖曳的燈籠光下,鎮長帶著大眾向媽祖致上最後的敬意,站在堆滿祭品的祭壇前一再鞠躬。在一片香海中,寂靜取代了白天的喧鬧,深具傳統特色的繞境儀式在眾人的見證下從歷史的書頁中復興起來,重獲新生。

The revelry outside is a stark contrast to the solemn atmosphere of the closing ceremony inside the temple. Under the light of the yellow lanterns symbolizing the yellow robes worn by the Matsu statues in Cihyu Temple, the township chief and others pay their final respects for the evening, bowing before the altar that now overflows with offerings for the goddess of the sea.

Amongst countless incense sticks, the crowd practices a moment of almost monastic silence, and ends the pilgrimage which has been saved from becoming a mere relic of the past.

By Gregory A. Thorpe Badrena 
By Joyce Lee (李芷涵)