Kuala Lumpur, July 5 (IANS) The statues of three Chinese deities were flown on business class from China to Malaysia as part of an inaugural cultural exchange tour.
Among the three statues was a 1.8-metre tall statue of the Chinese sea goddess Mazu, who is believed to be a protector of fisherman and sailors, BBC reported on Wednesday.
The other two statues were Qianliyan and Shunfeng’er, considered as guardians of the goddess.
According to Chinese newspaper Sin Chew Daily, the organiser of the trip bought three business class tickets for the statues, at a cost of 2,091 yuan ($307) each.
The statues were sent to Malaysia and Singapore as part of an inaugural cultural exchange tour to pay tribute to the sea goddess and celebrate a festival in her name. It was organised by the Meizhou Mazu Ancestor Temple in China.
Photos being widely circulated on Chinese social media showed the statues leaving their coastal temple home and “checking in” at Xiamen Gaoqi International Airport.
Temple staff told BBC that the religious statues were escorted by “a delegation of more than 130 people” earlier this week and brought onto a Xiamen Airlines flight heading to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
With assistance from airline staff, devotees fastened the sacred statues into first row seats and “widened” them to allow more space, the BBC report said.
Taking turbulence into consideration, the statues’ feet were firmly fixed onto the seats with special harnesses.
“This is basic respect we have for the culture of Goddess Mazu,” said a spokesperson who received the statues in Malaysia. “They were also more than 6ft high, so they had to fly business class.”
They even had special passports, which staff from the temple said were a “special courtesy” provided by the airline.
The statues came from a sacred sea temple located off the shores of China’s Fujian province, known to its worshippers as being the birthplace of goddess Mazu.
They travelled more than 2,800 km to the Thean Hou Chinese Temple in Malaysia and then later to Singapore.