A Different Temple for a Different Class

Two days ago I had the chance to visit the temple that gives the name to one of the most famous streets in Hong Kong – Temple Street. Until now it never crossed my mind that behind the fake ancient bricks there stands one of the oldest temples in the territory.

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Being someone who’s always lived on the ‘proper’ side of HK – i.e. the island side – I couldn’t help but compare the temple of my ‘parish’ to this one. On the outside they don’t seem to differ a lot. This one even looked grander, with steps leading up to the main hall and higher walls.

But upon entering I immediately sensed the difference. This one is more folkish, more working class. I can’t exactly say why – maybe it’s because of the presence of those soothe-sayers(喃無佬 or 喃巫). They were leading their client from alter to alter, mumbling spells or reading out prayers from a paper while the client offer fragrant sticks to the gods. I never saw this happen in the temple I frequent (Man Mo Temple). There worshippers are usually more middle-class, they take even religious matters to their own hands, and worshipping for them seems to be another task on the schedule that needs to be ticked off.

Isn’t it interesting to see how local temples can reflect the social strata of even a tiny place as Hong Kong?

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A soothe-sayer helps his client get her message across to the gods

Selling your Country

 

Cool Britannia – you may not buy Britain, but her coolness is up for sale

Cool Britannia – you may not buy Britain, but her coolness is up for sale

UK ™ by Mark Leonard

Published in 1997, Mark Leonard’s report made itself available to the public just in time to be swept away as last-century. UK ™ should be read as a satire – that at least eases your frustration a bit. The author, Mark Leonard, is apparently some sort of a trickster in Blair’s think tank, specialising in European relations and selling, packaging, branding and then to the final ‘offering’ of the nation to ‘potential’ customers.

In a most entrepreneurial spirit, Leonard advocates the re-branding of Britain through a series of campaigns that target at creating a new national identity. Like any businesses established in the old world order, Britain may benefit from a facelift, some jabs of botox, and with a nod to the present trend, some fake tan as well. It is more apposite, in fact, to subject Britain to the latest marketing treatments, for it was the first country to export consumerism through its colonising activities. Continue reading →