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How to Know Hong Kong and Macau

Roberto Ignacio Diaz, Dominic Cheung, Ana Paulina Lee, Authors

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Sacred Sites and Syncretism


Although I had planned to investigate the religious landscape of Hong Kong, I had no idea what I would find there. In fact, I didn't find my focus until I began actually exploring the area. I did, however, realize that I had a lot of ground to cover. With eighty Tin Hau temples alone and countless other shrines and monasteries to add, it became clear that it would be impossible to visit every place. 

Still, I winnowed down my options. It was during my first visit to a Taoist temple in Repulse Bay that something in particular finally piqued my interest. It was there that I noticed an imposing statue of Guanyin, the bodhisattva, in a temple that was supposedly dedicated to Tin Hau. Though this at first seemed abnormal, the very thing that initially puzzled me grew to become my focus: religious hybridity. 

After this first trip, every site I visited stood out in its tendency to blend the two traditions of Taoism and Buddhism--two distinct and separate religious systems. It became apparent that the two had, intentionally or otherwise, linked themselves together in the midst of modernization. As Hong Kong became a global business center, as its population boomed and concepts such as evolution and rationalism became popular, religion adapted as well. 

One of these adaptations seems to be the hybridization of religion. It was this development and its implications that most interested me. How could religion survive in an urbanized, colonized and re-colonized environment? By establishing an in-depth historical context and delving into a specific site, I hope to illuminate this question, to explore the complex religious landscape of Hong Kong through one of its sacred sites.
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