Recession-hit Asians pray for jobs, luck, recovery

May 26, 2009

ASIA-RELIGION/ As companies shed jobs and governments inject funds to stimulate economies, recession-hit believers in once-booming Southeast Asia are flocking to temples, churches and mosques to seek solace in religion — and pray for a quick economic recovery.

Meditation centres have also seen an upswing in attendance and people seek peace and calm amid the economic downturn.

(Photo: Hindus pray in a Singapore temple, 24 May 2009/Vivek Prakash)

Reuters correspondent Nopporn Wong-Anan has a feature here looking at how people seek spiritual solace at a time of material loss in Asia, home to all the major religions and any number of minor ones.

The impulse to return to religion in a crisis may be universal — we’ve looked at various aspects of this on FaithWorld in recent months — but there are some interesting local twists.

In Hong Kong, for example, business has slowed for feng shui masters, or geomancers, because the property sector is suffering a severe contraction. Feng shui masters say they use the laws of heaven and earth to give advice on how to design buildings to bring wealth and luck. They advise architects on how to place doors, windows and even furniture to avoid the bad spirits they say could otherwise infiltrate a building.

singapore-dollars“From 1991 until about 1998, when the last big economic crisis happened, a lot of people went to geomancers to get help. But the economy never got better and people didn’t think feng shui helped them,” said Edwin Ma, a feng shui consultant to top property firms. “So a lot of people got disappointed and they would now rather keep their money in their own pockets.”

(Photo: Singapore dollars, 6 Feb 2008/Tim Chong)
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