Mazu (742 to 772; Chinese Goddess of Sea), family name Lin, given name Mo Niang, was born in Fujian Putian County. According to legend, Mazu’s father, Lin Yuan, was a great officer. One day, his wife dreamt that the Goddess Guanyin gave her a fresh flower from India. It was said that this flower only blossomed once every three thousand years. Mrs. Lin was pregnant not long after she ate the flower. After 14 months, she gave birth to a girl, Mo Niang, on March 23rd, 742. Mo Niang was a very wise girl, knowing to worship Buddha ever since she was small. She had four brothers, all merchants who often sailed out to sea. One day, Mo Niang suddenly started murmuring words frantically and closed her eyes. Her father thought that she might have caught some disease and tried to wake her up. Upon opening her eyes, she asked her father in frustration: “Why did you wake me up? Why couldn’t you let me save my brother and keep them from harm?” Not being able to understand the situation, her parents ignored her. Yet, after a few days, the strangest thing happened. Mo Niang’s younger brother came back from the sea crying to his parents and said: “Three days ago, we encountered a great storm on the sea. Eldest brother’s boat was lost in the giant waves. However, during the darkest hours, I saw a girl guiding our boat walking on the water as if on dry land, taking us to safety.” It was only then that Mo Niang’s parents understood her odd behavior and regretted waking her up.
She must have sensed the danger and her soul transcended her body to guide her brothers. At the age of sixteen, Mo Niang didn’t want to marry and her parents didn’t force her. One day, Mo Niang died peacefully sitting in her chair. At that time, she wasn’t yet thirty years old. Upon her death, an elegant scent of fresh flowers spread across the land. Since then, people have claimed to see Mo Niang from time to time appearing to help out in desperate situations. People began calling her “Mazu”. It is said that before Zheng He set sail from Liujia Harbor into the Southern Seas during the Ming Dynasty, he would pray to Mazu for her blessings. Therefore, although encountering numerous storms, his fleet always returned back home. Admiral Zheng He even claimed to have seen Mazu several times, guiding his fleet to safety.
Mazu is also respectfully called “Empress of Heaven”. However, the people of Quanzhou, Zhangzhou, and Chaozhou still call her by her ancient respectful title of Mazu. In Taiwan, Mazu is well respected especially in the southern coastal areas. It is said she that protects the ships out at sea. Nowadays, we can see worshippers at Mazu Temples all across Taiwan.