A Chinese spirit-medium temple in Kwun Tong: A preliminary report


Myers, John T.

Leung, Davy Hak-kim
TitleA Chinese spirit-medium temple in Kwun Tong: A preliminary report
PublisherSocial Research Center, the Chinese University of Hong Kong
Publication Date1974


Kwun Tong
Abstract/ Concluding Remarks:In a recent conversation with a resident of the Tsui Ping Road Estate who has converted to Catholicism since his arrival in Hong Kong, the topic of traditional religion and its persistence or demise in the estate was discussed. The informant noted, “Even in my native village prior to 1949 many of the traditional practices had begun to disappear because people had doubts about their efficacy. Now, however, in this resettlement estate, I find that the old religion prospers even more than in my ancestral village; an especially good example is that Chiu-chow place on the hill, i.e. Taih Wong Yeh”.

When asked to comment on the possible reasons for Taih Wong Yeh’s apparent success, the above-mentioned informant attributed it to one major factor, the support of the local Chiu-chow community. He added that “the Chiu-Chow are a deeply religious people who have a strong emotional attachment to the customs of their homeland. They are more generous than others in supporting religious activity”. While not desiring to deal with the thorny question of whether the Chiu-chow are indeed more religious than other Chinese, the writers do agree that one of the prime reasons for the temple’s success is its strong association with Chiu-chow customs and the resultant appeal to that segment of the local community.

Taih Wong Yeh may be defined as an “ethnic temple” in the sense that it provides physical and social space where symbolic links with the Chiu-chow homeland are maintained and fostered. It is a place where Chiu-chow residents of the resettlement estate can come together and feel at ease conversing in the native dialect while worshipping deities in a manner traditional to their home country. Even numbers of that linguistic group who have converted to Christianity or who profess no religious relief will attend functions of an entertainment nature sponsored on major festivals.Although in theory and temple is open to all residents of the estate regardless of linguistic background, in reality, the same factors that attract the Chiu-chow, i.e. language and manner of worship, discourage others from association. Rather than broadening its appeal to the wider community, the temple’s current expansion program appears aimed at solidifying its involvement with the Chiu-chow alone.
NoteBibliography: p. 56-57
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