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All 'fairies' need approval of Mazu at her temple in Tainan

TAIPEI -- The Luerhmen Mazu Temple in Tainan is looking for young and pretty women who want to be fairy maidens and serve temple visitors during the Lunar New Year, but whether they make the grade will be decided by the sea goddess herself.

A total of eight “fairies” will be selected on Dec. 29 using divination blocks and serve at the temple between Jan. 31 and Feb. 3, the first four days of the Lunar New Year, said temple head Chen Ching-lin.

The fairies, who will perform “divine” functions according to Chen, will need to wear traditional robes and symbolically bless prayers on Mazu's behalf with willow branches and holy water.

“It will be a life-long honor for the women,” said Chen, adding that the temple has carried out the ritual for the past 22 years.

The campaign usually draws several dozens of applicants, who according to a promotional poster have to be aged 18 to 25 and single, stand between 158 and 170 centimeters tall and weigh less than 60 kilograms.

The application form only requires applicants to give their date of birth and submit a photo, however, and Chen said those will be the major factors in the initial screening process rather than the other height and weight criteria, which he described as simply “procedural.”

Following an initial screening process, it will be up to Mazu to pick the winners, Chen said.

The list of candidates will be presented to the goddess, one of the most popular deities in Taiwan, three days before they are chosen on Dec. 29.

The winners will be determined based on the number of approvals they get from Matsu by casting bamboo divination blocks.

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