Guests from Singapore and elsewhere welcome Mazu deity who flew biz class to Malaysia

The Thean Hou Temple in Kuala Lumpur played host to a grand celebration in honour of the visit by Mazu, a goddess brought from the Meizhou Mazu Ancestral Temple in Putian, Fujian, China.

"The celebration is significant because this is the first time ever in over 1,000 years that the Mazu deity has left her ancestral temple in China to visit other Mazu temples in this region," said Selangor and Federal Territory Hainan Association president Dr Tang Chai Yoong.

Tang said they were honoured that the Thean Hou Temple was her first destination in South-East Asia and to receive her blessings.

The event is also in celebration of her birthday, which falls on March 23 on the lunar calendar.

Also known as Empress of Heaven, Mazu is recognised as the goddess of the sea. Fishermen and sailors pray to her in hopes of a safe journey when out at sea.

Tang said non-seafaring followers also worshipped Mazu for the values she is known for - kindness, unconditional love and upstanding morals.

The celebration was organised as part of the China-Malaysia Mazu cultural exchange programme.

Among the attendees were members of some 180 Mazu-related associations or sister clubs around Malaysia, as well as guests from China, the Philippines and Singapore.

The Mazu deity will next visit Melaka and Singapore, before returning to China.

The two-day event included a prayer ceremony, welcome reception, cultural performances by the Thean Hou Art Troupe - a 130-strong group from Fujian, as well as a parade.

The colourful parade covered a 5km route from the Thean Hou Temple to Brickfields and back.

It featured Mazu deities from various temples, lion and dragon dance troupes, a marching band as well as the Thean Hou Art Troupe.

Tang, Meizhou Mazu Ancestral Temple chief director Lim Jing Bang and Chinese Embassy counsellor Liu Dongyuan also witnessed the unveiling of a plaque to commemorate the event.