Bixia Yuanjun(Supreme Monarch of Azure Cloud), whose full name is Taishan jade maiden Bixia Yuanjun, is commonly kown as Grandma Taishan.
According to legends, Jiang Tai Gong(Grand Duke Jiang) helped King Wu establish the Zhou Dynasty. In order to thank the gods, Jiang decided to grant lands, mainly famous mountains and rivers, to them. However, Mount Tai was not included in those mountains to be granted as Jiang found it was such a perfect place for practice that he intended to keep it as his own.
Later, Huang Feihu came to Jiang to for Mount Tai. With him was Huang’s sister Huang Fei, a female general, who asked that she be the recipient of the granted Mount Tai.
Jiang said that only one of them could be the granted, and proposed that they had a competition. The one who was the first to reach the summit of Mount Tai would be the recipient. They both agreed.
The competition began, and Huang Feihu rushed to the top, while Huang Fei seemed to be in no hurry. When Huang Fei reached the top, the brother said to her, “Sister, you’ve lost the competition. Now Mount Tai is mine.”
Huang Fei said, “No, you’re wrong. I was earlier than you, and came down to see if there was anything the matter with you. I will prove to you that I came earlier before Jiang.”
After Jiang came, Huang Qi brought a pair of embroidered shoes from under the highest stone and proved that she was the one who reached the summit earlier. Therefore Jiang granted Mount Tai to Huang Fei, who became the goddess of Mount Tai. The truth was that Huang Qi practiced magic during the competition and had secretly put the embroidered shoes under the stone. Huang Feihu still loved Mount Tai, and at the foot of Mount Tai he did many good things for the common people. People respected him so much that they called him God of Mount Tai, and built a temple, Dai Temple, for him.
Why do the common people warship Grandma Taishan so much? According to Daoism, she was appointed by Jade Emperor (the emperor of heaven)to charge the deities and to supervise the good and evil among the common people. She was so omnipotent that she could protect farming, business, travels, marriage and could cure the sickness and save the patients. Besides, one of her attendants is a female holding a baby in her arms. Therefore Grandma Taishan is also called Songzi Niangniang(Goddess of Fertility).
There had been many stories about Grandma Taishan. One story was that when Emperor Zhenzong(968-1022) of Song performed the mountain worship ceremony on Mount Tai, he accidentally found a stone sculpture of a jade maiden when washing his hands in a small pool on the mountaintop; therefore, the emperor issued orders to build a temple for the jade maiden, which was named as Zhaozhen Temple. Later the name was change to Bixia Ci(Bixia Temple). Besides Bixia Ci, there are many small Yuanjun temples either on or at the foot of Mount Tai. During the Ming and Qing dynasties, Bixia Yuanjun was so popular that her temples were built all around China. The bigger ones that are still preserved today are located in Taiyuan, Jincheng, Puxian, Wanrong of north China’s Shanxi province, Xinxiang of central China’s Henan province and Xi’an of northwest China’s Shaanxi province. People respect Bixia Yuanjun for two main reasons. First, she could respond to all calls for help of, and bring blessing to the common people. Second, she was a kind-hearted goddess and viewed as a kind mother by many people.
Grandma Taishan’s birthday falls on the 15th day of the third month in the Chinese lunar calendar, which is just a time of spring warm and of blossoms. On this day, millions of people come to the top of Mount Tai to warship her and burn joss sticks for her.
Reasons for recommendation: Grandma Taishan, like Ma Zu, is a kind and benevolent goddess to many people. Many tourists come to pray for peace before her while climbing Mount Tai.
Spots to burn joss sticks:
1) Bixia Yuanjun Temple on top of Mount Tai;
2) Yaocan Pavilion in Dai Temple;
3) Red Gate, the palace of Grandma Taishan;
4) Lingying Palace at eastern side of Haoli Hill(haoli shan) in Lingshan Street. This is the lower temple of Bixia Yuanjun.