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Religious Syncretism - Phra Phrom Worship Among Chinese Singaporeans

Religious Syncretism - Phra Phrom Worship Among Chinese Singaporeans

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Published by Foo Chek Wee
This essay examines the ritual phenomenon of Chinese Singaporeans worshipping the Thai god Phra Phrom (commonly known as the “Four-Faced Buddha” by many Chi-
nese speaking Singaporeans) and making regular pilgrimages to temples in Thai- land.

Accordingly, I will use my research findings as a case study to understand religious syncretism which is viewed by anthropologists (Rosaldo 1989, Shaw & Stewart 1994, Mulder 1996, Appadurai 1991 and Lang 2004) as a constantly negotiated process.
This essay examines the ritual phenomenon of Chinese Singaporeans worshipping the Thai god Phra Phrom (commonly known as the “Four-Faced Buddha” by many Chi-
nese speaking Singaporeans) and making regular pilgrimages to temples in Thai- land.

Accordingly, I will use my research findings as a case study to understand religious syncretism which is viewed by anthropologists (Rosaldo 1989, Shaw & Stewart 1994, Mulder 1996, Appadurai 1991 and Lang 2004) as a constantly negotiated process.

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Categories:Types, School Work
Published by: Foo Chek Wee on Feb 18, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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06/06/2014

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Religious Syncretism:Phra Phrom Worship Among Chinese Singaporeans
CHEK WEE, FOO
Photo byTwo Steps Behind
 
Introduction
Since the 1980s, there has been agrowing popularity amongst ChineseSingaporeans who worship the Thaideity Phra Phrom (commonly knownto them as the “Four Faced Buddha”)and making regular pilgrimages totemples in Thailand. (Hoon 2001)My field research in 2005 seek to un-derstand the historical, cultural andeconomic dynamics behind thesepractices. Such an exploration wouldenable a further understanding of Re-ligious Syncretism as defined byShaw and Stewart (1994).This essay examines the ritual phe-nomenon of Chinese Singaporeansworshipping the Thai god PhraPhrom (commonly known as the“Four-Faced Buddha” by many Chi-nese speaking Singaporeans) and making regular pilgrimages to temples in Thai-land. Accordingly, I will use my research findings as a case study to understand re-ligious syncretism which is viewed by anthropologists (Rosaldo 1989, Shaw &Stewart 1994, Mulder 1996, Appadurai 1991 and Lang 2004) as a constantly nego-tiated process.
i
Photo byabudardak 
 
Methodology 
The phenomenon of Chinese Singaporeans worshipping Phra Phrom would re-quire an understanding of their beliefs and rituals at the grassroots level ratherthan assessing the phenomenon from current literature pertaining to Phra Phromworship. According to Leach (1954), both rituals and beliefs pertaining to a par-ticular phenomenon have to be taken into account in order to provide an accurateaccount of that particular phenomenon. Moreover, the current English literatureon Phra Phrom worship is limited. Therefore, I had to embark on ethnographicfield work in gathering data from conversations with commercial merchants, indi- viduals, and representatives from religious institutions pertaining to Phra Phromworship in Singapore. The ethnographic approach in having my informants talk 
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