Heavenly Mother blessed Maowei Harbor; Syuantian, the Rich Arrived at Siaying Village
Speaking of "Siaying," its unearthed antiques can be traced back to the prehistoric time. But what is noteworthy about this site is that troops were stationed here during the period of Koxinga. At that time "Haigan Military Camp" was stationed here, and this site then gained its old name. In the later period of the Qing Dynasty, an inner harbor was established. It not only became an important place for trading with the outside, but was also an important passage between Zhuluo (today's Chiayi) and the prefectural city. According to an old document, "Meiwei Harbor" was later on renamed as "Maowei Harbor." At that time, the planned road "Shuangsian Street" was a road rarely seen in Taiwan that has separated lanes for vehicles and pedestrians. Shops of a variety of businesses were established and drove the economic prosperity of the site. There were even as many as 28 "meat shops." In the evening, night life began. The flourishing scenes reminded people of the prosperous Yangzhou so that people gave this site another name, "Little Yangzhou."
The Matsu enshrined at "Heavenly Mother Temple of Maowei Harbor" was a goddess that people earning their livelihood on boats must worship. For local residents, the temple had been a major religious center ever since its establishment in the Qing Dynasty. It blessed Maowei prosperity for a century. But in the period of Tongzhi reign, one day before a large earthquake happened, Matsu stirred up the incense burner and took psychic action. The residents mistook the scene as a sign of having foreign attacks soon so that all households nailed up their doors and windows and threw soybeans on their front courtyards to prevent foreign enemies from entering their houses. Therefore, by the time the earthquake occurred, the house buildings collapsed but the people inside could not escape, resulting in a great number of casualties and deaths. Due to disclosure of God's secret, Heavenly Mother was imprisoned for 100 years. From then on, the administrative center moved from Maowei to today's "Siaying Village."
"Siaying Syuantian God Temple," commonly called "The Big Temple" by the local residents and co-administered by the families of six surnames, was built in the same establishment year as Matsu Temple in the period of Koxinga. The temple started to have many worshippers from the Qing Dynasty, and has been prospering for over three centuries. The temple was originally constructed on a piece of flat land. Since the land was a low-lying area, the diverted Zengwen River kept on destroying the foundation of the temple, so it was reconstructed and stilted for 4 times. According to the legend, during the period of Japanese occupation, the Japanese army wanted to impose tax on civilians, and asked everybody to erect their names on the boundaries of their land. Fearing to be unable to afford the high tax to be imposed by the government, they all erected the same name "Wu Chengen" on their farmlands. Thus, there was an interesting message spread amongst people that "Wu Chengen was a No. 1 Rich God." And this Rich God was also said to have directed the future of the place. In Fujianese, the pronunciation of richness is similar to "good goose" in Mandarin. One day the God appeared as a big white goose in a dream of a civilian and showed him the way to a god temple. After that, people started to develop goose-related businesses at this site, such as raising geese, goose meal, ecological farm, and different kinds of relevant activities. Finally, "Good Goose Street" mainly serving goose meat dishes was developed.
In the third month of every year, people celebrate the birthday of Syuantian God, with the pilgrimage procession starting from Maowei Heavenly Mother Temple to many other places from the first to the fifth days of the month. "Li Sedan Chair" and entrance to temple both held once every three years were the highly entertaining events that pilgrims eagerly looked forward to, and were called "good smells of Siaying." This village, receiving special love and care from Heavenly Mother and God, and having a group of enthusiastic "good-goose people" living in, always welcome visitors to follow the good smell and stop by to visit "Siaying Good Geese Shop"!