Friday, April 20, 2012

Streetside Shrine in Singapore

Chinese traditional religion is very decentralized and personal. The government of Singapore divides believers up into categories like "Buddhist" and "Taoist", but in reality the two tend to meld together and aren't well distinguished. Theology is not that important, and while there are many temples, staffed by monks, nuns, and other religious personnel, a lot of religious practice is home-based, designed to improve luck (and thus has a lot in common with "magic"), and kind of quirky.

Believers often have a shrine at home (in the living room or kitchen, or both), and if they own a business will have one there too. The god(s) receive offerings as a kind of bribery, to keep you on their good side. They seem to like food (especially fruit) and drinks (especially alcohol).

Here's a random shrine on the street: this god has received tangerines, sweet cake, incense, and some coffee. (The glass has wax and a candle inside, not a drink.) I love the casualness of it.

1 comment:

  1. That's very interesting. Makes me wish Americans were so relaxed about their own personal religions.