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Localized Female Religious Space and Gendered Religious Practice: A Case Study of Chinese Vegetarian Halls of Xiantian Dao 先天道 (The Way of Former Heaven) in Singapore and Malaysia
Ruo, Show Ying
|Keywords:||先天道 ; 齋堂 ; 齋姑 ; 寶卷 |
Xiantian dao 先天道 (Way of the Former Heaven) ; vegetarian hall ; vegetarian nun ; precious scroll
|Issue Date:||2020-11-24 16:28:53 (UTC+8)|
Xiantian dao, a Chinese popular religious group, spread to Malaysia in the mid-nineteenth century, and developed in the relatively free religious environments of both Singapore and Malaysia, whereby many vegetarian halls were created by various religious denominations.These vegetarian halls stemmed from the same religious tradition, but their forms were widely disparate. Female vegetarian halls, under the leadership of vegetarian nuns (zhaigu 齋姑), offer a space for women's self-assembly and empowerment, and have become a female space relatively unseen in the Chinese cultural sphere. Evidence of the printing and dissemination of precious scrolls by Xiantian dao in Singapore and Malaysia can be found as late the 1970s, illustrating the role of religious texts in the local development of Xiantian dao. Other trajectories of localized manifestations, such as the mutual integration of the Babu longjing 八部龍經 (＂Eight Volumes of Dragon Scriptures＂) from Luo Jiao's 羅教 Wubu liuce 五部六冊 (Five Books in Six Fascicles) with Straits-born Chinese (Peranakan Chinese) culture in vegetarian halls or the gradual fusion of these venues with Mahayana Buddhism, have become unique cases to observe the development of traditional Chinese religion outside of Mainland China. From the perspective of leadership, religiosity, service, and the dissemination of textual materials, this article focuses on vegetarian halls, their localized characteristics and their status as a gendered space, before turning to an exploration of the historical development and present status of halls in Singapore and Malaysia. Finally, it reflects on the formation of meanings of gender from the question of cultivation practices at Xiantian dao's female vegetarian halls.
|Relation:||華人宗教研究, 11, 37-100|
|Appears in Collections:||[Studies in Chinese Religions ] Journal Articles|
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