Ma Co – Goddess of Sailing Protector

Ma Co – Goddess of Sailing Protector

媽祖 People outside China dubbed Ma Zu {Hok Kian = Ma Co} as “Goddess of Sea from China”, was one of treasures of the most respectable Chinese Gods in the circle of people. Ma Co temples in Taiwan only, reach the amount of 800 units. The most crowded Temple is in北港Bei Gang. Every year at the 23rd day of 3rd month of Chinese calendar (coincided with Ma Zu’s Birthday), people who come to worship in this Temple, reached the amount of more than 1 million people.

Ma Co was also known with the title天上聖母Tian Shang Sheng Mu {Thian Siang Sing Bu}. Her familiar nickname was媽祖婆Ma Co Po. Her original name was林默娘Lin Mo Niang {Lim Bik Nio}, born in福建Fu Jian {Hok Kian} Province, 湄洲Mei Zhou {Bi Ciu} island nearby莆田Pu Tian {Poh Chan}. Lin Mo Niang was born at night at the 23rd day of 3rd month of Chinese calendar of 960 A.D., namely during the government of Emperor Tai Zu of North Song Dynasty, the first Jian Long year. When she was born, red light focused on from the sky into his delivery room & fragrance was smelt anywhere. Why was she named Mo, meaning silent? Since he was born until she was in the age of more than 1 month, Ma Zu has never cried any more. Then his father named Lin Mo Niang (Reticent Girl).

Since she was in a carrying cloth (in the age of around 1 year), when she saw Buddha Rupang or Gods statue, she directly gave salute with Pai – have characteristic of Anjali (worship position with both hands flat on the chest). When she was 5 years old, Lim Bik Nio could read觀音經Guan Yin Jing {Kwan Im Keng = Kitab Suci Kwan Im} by heart. It proved that Lim Bik Nio has in-depth motive soul mate with Buddha & Gods.

During the school age she could understand lessons San Jiao {Sam Kaw = Tridharma: Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism} with the extraordinary understanding. In addition to study diligently, she was also diligent to pray. She was very loyal to her parents, & liked to help neighbors who were suffered from calamity. Therefore villagers respected him very much.

After becoming quite mature she was not willing to get married even though she was proposed by a wealthy person Bu from Hok Kian. Her mission came to the world to help the mankind started to show her intense feeling in the age of 16 years old.

Lim Bik Nio considerably understood astronomy & weather circulation. Life in the seaside made her become a girl who was not fear to encounter horrible typhoon & wave being confronted by the seamen. In addition, she could also treat sick person. Her skill in this treatment resulted in the villagers called her as Ling Ni meaning Miracle Girl, Long Ni (Dragon Girl), & Shen Gu (Sacred Auntie).

In the age of 23 years old, Lim Bik Nio managed to defeat 2 invulnerable ghosts that controlled Tao Hua Shan Mountain. Both ghosts were Qian Li Yan {Cian Li Gan} who could see from thousand kilometers away, Li, & Sun Feng Er {Sun Hong Ni} who could hear from thousand kilometers away, then became her guards. Furthermore, Lim Bik Nio helped people to eradicate crimes & helped ships attacked by hurricane on the sea. Due to her good deeds her name was well known in entire province.

Once upon a time when she slept, in her sight she saw her father & both older brothers had trouble in the middle of the sea. The boat they rode was hit by the wave resulting in it broken disorderly. Immediately Bik Nio flew from the heavens & went down to help them. Her oldest brother was held with her left hand, while her right hands seized her second brother. Her powerless father was helped by biting her father’s shirt. Suddenly, Bik Nio’s mother woke her up from her sleep since she heard a queer sound of Bik Nio like she was talking in her sleep. Bik Nio woke up suddenly. After she composed herself, Bik Nio told her mother that she had just helped both of her older brothers but she failed to help her father because when she was biting her father’s shirt, she replied her mother’s call (who woke her up). So that her mouth was open & her biting loosened.

Ever since her divine mission was getting stronger and stronger, she helped anyone who needed help on the sea.

During Tiong Yang celebration, the 9th day of 9th month of Chinese calendar or 987 A.D., when se was 27 years old, Lim Bik Nio ascended to the paradise. In that morning day, people of Mei Zhou saw colorful cloud blanket such island. In the sky, it was heard a very melodious music. It was seen Lim Bik Nio slowly ascended to the heaven & to become a Goddess. One year later, the people established a temple in the place Lin Mo Niang was lifted to the paradise. The temple established in Mei Zhou was the first Ma Zu Temple in China.

Likewise Kwan Kong who was respected all over the world, Ma Co was also adored with full of respect. Because without her the Chinese people who traveled around the world, were impossible to come back safely. In view of nautical technology at that time was very inadequate. Where the immigrants arrived, it was there they established temple to respect Ma Co who has protected them during the sailing.

During Song Dynasty era, maritime trade from Hok Kian province developed greatly. But the seamen were aware that life in the middle of the sea was always full of disasters that every time could threat. To request protection & safety, Ma Co statue was always carried everywhere. The story of miracle about the appearance Gods of Ma Zu in proving help to the seamen started to disseminate.

In 1122 A.D., Emperor Song Hui Zong ordered a minister named Lu Yun Di to become an Ambassador to Gao Li country (now Korea). In their journey, this group was hit by sudden storm. Of 8 ships that were sailing, 7 of them were sunk. Only the ship ridden by Lu Yun Di was safe. The Ambassador was surprise very much. He asked to his subordinates, who is the God that has rescued them? Among his escorts there was someone who accidentally originating from Pu Tian & usually prayed to Goddess of Ma Zu. He then told to Lu Yun Di that they were rescued by the Goddess originating from Mei Zhou Island, namely: Lin Mo Niang. Then Lu Yun Di reported this matter to Emperror Song Hui Zong. As a sense of respect, the Emperor awarded a title Sun Ji Fu Ren to Lin Mo Niang & a board inscribed with Sun Ji, it means A very Essential Help. The handwriting of the Emperor was then installed in the temple in Mei Zhou. Ever since, adoration against Ma Zu began obtaining an official recognition from the Kingdom.

Since Song Dynasty era [960–1279 A.D.] until Qing Dynasty [1644 – 1911 A.D.], the kingdom has awarded not less than 28 honorary titles to Ma Zu. Those titles among others are: Fu Ren, meaning that the Great Lady, Tian Hou or Tian Fei (Heavenly Queen Consort), Tian Shang Sheng Mu (Holy Mother from the Heavens) and, Ma Zu Po (Mother Ma Zu).

It was since Song Dynasty, in the main cities all along the East China beach that stretching out from North to the South namely: Dan Dong, Yan Tai, Qin Huang Dao, Tian Jin, Shang Hai, Ning Po, Hang Zhou, Fu Zhou, Xia Men, Guang Zhou, Macao etc, have appeared temples to adore this Goddess of Sea Protector. Ma Zu has become an idol of the seaman from the entire country, no longer limited to those originating from a Mei Zhou only.

It has been a custom at that time, prior to the sailing started; a big prayer service was always performed to request protection of Ma Zu. In each ship was always provided praying room for its statue.

A well known seamen during Ming Dynasty era, Zheng He {Ceng Ho}, who was known with the title San Bao Da Ren {Sam Po Tai Jin}, even though he was a Moslem, he didn’t forget this custom. 7 times Zheng He led large armada consisting of tens of ship, visited various Asian & African countries. Every time starting the sailing, Zheng He always led a great prayer service ceremony to Ma Zu to request protection on safety of his journey.

In the 3rd Ceng Ho’s sea voyage, namely in 1409 A.D. (the 7th year of the Government of Emperor Kaisar Yong Le of Ming Dynasty), upon the instruction of the Emperor, Ceng Ho took the time to pray in Ma Zu temple in Mei Zhou Island. A ancient inscription of Ceng Ho inheritance existed in Zhang Le, Fu Jian province, mentioned in detail that safety of Zheng He journey until successful to complete duty to perform a goodwill visit to foreign countries reached to 7 times, thanks to miracle & protection of Tian Shang Sheng Mu. The title Tian Fei was awarded to Ma Zu during the Emperor Yong Le government era of Ming Dynasty, owing to his protection to Ceng Ho armada.

During this Ming Dynasty era, simultaneously with the increasing number of inhabitants of Hok Kian province who emigrated, homage to Ma Zu entered Taiwan Island. The oldest Ma Zu Temple in Taiwan Province was in Ma Gong city, Peng Hu Islands. Currently, in Taiwan there are more than 800 Ma Zu temples, and two third of people adore his statue inside home.

The biggest & the most frequent visited Ma Zu Temple by people in Taiwan is in Bei Gang. Respected Tian Fei Statue here is originating from Mei Zhou which was brought there in the 33rd year of Emperor Kang Xi government. Honorary title Tian Hou is also a gift from this Emperor Kang Xi, since he was considered to have protected the safety of group of envoys from Qing Kingdom who were sailing to Taiwan. Thereby, Bei Gang is considered as a holy place for the homage of Ma Zu. Every year coincided with the Ma Zu’s birthday (the 23rd day of 3rd month of Chinese calendar), millions of Taiwan people flood Bei Gang city to perform pilgrimage.

Paying homage to Ma Zu also emerge in many countries, simultaneously with the spread of Chinese emigrants to various parts of the world. In the countries such as Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, even until the United States and so on, where may Chinese emigrants stay, many found Ma Zu temples. In Japan, homage to Ma Zu was started at the end of Ming Dynasty. In one of small cities in Japan, Sui Hu, Ma Zu has been included into the ranks and files of Japanese Gods & respected in the main temple of that city. In Japan, there are approximately 100 Ma Zu temples.

Ma Zu is always presented as a beautiful Goddess & wearing full dress of a queen consort, guarded by both devils who have ever been defeated namely Qian Li Yan (One Thousand-eye Li) & Sun Feng Er (the Windy Ear). Qian Li Yan has bluish green skin with fanged mouth & armed with forking spear. Sun Feng Er has brownish red skin; its mouth also has fangs & armed with long handle axe.

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Buddhist Temple Jindeyuan Jakarta

Ma Co – Goddess of Sailing Protector

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