Twenty-two statues of the Chinese sea goddess Matsu arrived in Hainan Province from Taiwan on Monday for a cross-Strait mass blessing ceremony.

Escorted by followers, the ornate statues arrived in Haikou, capital of Hainan, on Monday evening after being transported on a flight from Taiwan.

More than 10,000 worshippers, sailors and fishermen, including those from Taiwan, will attend the ritual in the southern province's Qionghai City and pray for protection from the goddess of the sea.

Scheduled to run from Tuesday to Friday, the ceremony will be the country's first large-scale gathering for fishermen and Matsu worshippers across the Taiwan Strait, said Liu Geng, director of Hainan Provincial Taiwan Affairs Office.

The statues from palaces across Taiwan will join their peers from the mainland provinces of Hainan, Guangdong and Fujian in the ceremony, which also aims to bless hundreds of fishing boats from both sides of the Strait that will sail to the South China Sea when the fishing moratorium ends on Thursday.

Matsu, or Mazu in Chinese mandarine, is widely worshipped in Taiwan and other coastal regions of south China, and her believers are also found in some eastern and southeastern Asian countries.

SOURCE: peopledaily

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