"Cisha" Mazu Sacrificial Ceremony

Source: szns.gov.cnUpdated: 2022-01-25

The “Cisha” Mazu Sacrificial Ceremony is a traditional folk custom unique to Chiwan Tianhou Temple, Nanshan, Shenzhen. What “Cisha” means is to bid farewell to the beach and break new ground in the vast sea. Since the start of the Ming Dynasty, it has been a custom that all fishermen passing by Chiwan or officials sent on diplomatic missions would offer incense to Mazu in Tianhou Temple after embarking on the bank, praying for their safe and smooth voyages blessed by Mazu. They would hollow out the bellies of pigs, cows and sheep, fill them with grass and place them on the sandy beach to offer incense to Mazu. After the worship was completed, the sacrificial offerings would sink to the sea bottom. Later, “cisha” became a term evocative of a solemn ritual before setting sail via Chiwan.This custom, which has lasted for more than 500 years, was moved from the beach to Tianhou Temple due to sea reclamation, but it has been kept to this day. In general, this festival is scheduled for the 23rd day of the third lunar month (the birthday of Mazu) or autumn.

Nowadays, the “Cisha” Mazu Sacrificial Ceremony lasts for four days. A number of sacrificial procedures like placing offerings, lighting oil lamps, bundling up the“Ghost King,” worshiping the “City God,” worshiping Mazu, a lion dance, martial art performances, burning the “Ghost King,” grand worship rituals, and burning the “City God” will be held.

Amid the music played by a Nanwu Band, faithful followers come in flocks to worship Mazu. They keep offering incense and bowing to Mazu, expressing their reverence for Mazu and also praying for safety and happiness of their family blessed by Mazu.

The festival with a history of more than 500 years is one of well-preserved customs of worshipping Mazu in the country, embodying Chinese people’s virtue of attaching emphasis to the tradition, recalling ancestors, and passing on the good qualities of our ancestors from generation to generation. It has precious historical value. As animage of justice and traditional virtue, Mazu is intelligent, brave, beautiful, benevolent and kind-hearted, so Mazu culture reflects the embodiment of centripetal force and the cohesion of the Chinese nation. The “Cisha” Mazu Sacrificial Ceremony has profound cultural value. The truth, goodness and beauty of Mazu cultureis an eternal  spirit as well as the common wealth of Chinese all over the world.

Chiwan Tianhou Temple has been selected as one of 47 executive directors from more than 5,000 Mazu temples globally. Protecting this cultural heritage will play a vital role in strengthening the unity of Chinese and overseas Chinese both at home and abroad and promoting the peaceful reunification of the motherland, so it has important social value and also has certain research value for marine culture and belief culture.

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