In Singapore and Malaysia, the inversion of Chinese Underworld traditions has meant that Underworld demons are now amongst the most commonly venerated deities in statue form, channelled through their spirit mediums, tang-ki. The Chinese Underworld and its sub-hells are populated by a bureaucracy drawn from the Buddhist, Taoist and vernacular pantheons. Under the watchful eye of Hell's 'enforcers', the lower echelons of demon soldiers impose post-mortal punishments on the souls of the recently deceased for moral transgressions committed during their prior incarnations. Chinese religion in contemporary Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan offers an ethnography of contemporary Chinese Underworld traditions, where night-time cemetery rituals assist the souls of the dead, exorcised spirits are imprisoned in Guinness bottles, and malicious foetus ghosts are enlisted to strengthen a temple's spirit army. Understanding the religious divergences between Singapore and Malaysia (and their counterparts in Taiwan) through an analysis of socio-political and historical events, Fabian Graham challenges common assumptions about the nature and scope of Chinese vernacular religious beliefs and practices. Graham's innovative approach to alterity allows the reader to listen to first-person dialogues between the author and channelled Underworld deities. Through its alternative methodological and narrative stance, the book intervenes in debates on the interrelation between sociocultural and spiritual worlds, and promotes the destigmatisation of spirit possession and discarnate phenomena in the future study of mystical and religious traditions.
Chinese Religion in Contemporary Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan The Cult of the Two Grand Elders - Alternative Sinology
Paperback (17 May 2022)
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