Mazu belief helps mediate disputes

By ZHANG YI | China Daily | Updated: 2023-08-11 09:30
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Mazu Dispute Mediation Center was established in recent years under the Office of Justice in Meizhou, Putian of Fujian province. [Photo provided to China Daily]

The spirit of Mazu is being used to mediate in disputes on a resort island of Putian, Fujian province, as locals dare not lie in front of the revered sea goddess, judicial officials who introduced the program said.

The Mazu Dispute Mediation Center was established in recent years under the Office of Justice in Meizhou Island.

The island is the birthplace of Mazu culture, which advocates doing good deeds and values such as peace, harmony and inclusiveness.

Yang Yang, director of the office of justice in the township, said: "We use it (Mazu mediation) to guide people involved in disputes to reason, speak the truth and abide by the rules. It has turned out to be effective due to the strong belief in Mazu among local people."

The walls of the mediation room are inscribed with symbols of Mazu culture depicting peace and harmony, and there is a large portrait of the sea goddess.

In front of the portrait is a long table where the parties involved in a dispute sit, along with those taking part in the mediation process, including police officers, court representatives, lawyers and respected citizens.

The mediation process starts with a ritual where all participants stand facing the portrait of Mazu. Both sides are asked whether they are willing to talk under the watchful eye of Mazu, Yang said.

"This ceremonial practice helps create a solemn atmosphere at the beginning and prevents the parties sitting on opposite sides with angry faces. The mediation team then guides them to consider each other's perspective," Yang said.

"Local people have been raised to revere Mazu from a young age, and they rarely lie in her presence," he said, adding that participants are frequently reminded that Mazu is watching them during the process, which encourages them to be virtuous and good.

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