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Temple uses GPS to monitor goddess

A popular Taiwanese temple has combined high technology with religion, enabling devotees to track the progress of a revered idol on its pilgrimage thanks to a global positioning system.

The solemn religious ceremony started midnight of Saturday last week, as the idol of Matsu was carried out of the Chenlan Temple in Tachia, a coastal township in the central county of Taichung. Followers scrambled to touch the sedan chair of their beloved goddess for good luck and the start of the event was so crowded that pilgrims carrying incense and Taoist flags took several hours to inch ahead a few hundred meters.

But unlike in the past, the organizers installed GPS equipment on the cars escorting the Matsu idol during the 300-kilometer pilgrimage. “By checking the website: www.elocation.com.tw, users will be able to get to know the site of Matsu anytime,” a temple official said. “As the pilgrimage was always delayed, the system can save a lot of time for those people who want to line up along the routes to worship,” he said.

The pilgrimage will last eight days as the worshippers march to another shrine to Matsu at Fengtien Temple in Chiayi county and another four days to return to Taichung. The Matsu pilgrimage dates back a century.