Introduction to the Study of Religion
Prof. Ken Derry
Culture: Surface of Religion
By: Zain Malik
Friday, February 15th, 2013
Word Count: 1498 words
Zain Malik: Culture Fo Guanh Shan Temple of Toronto Naima Nadeem: Power 6525 Millcreek Drive
Manny Kular: Gender February 11th, 2013 – 1:00pm Figure 1: Picture Taken by Zain Malik - Entrance
Figure [ 1 ]: Picture Taken by Zain Malik - Entrance
For my field research report my partners and I visited the largest Chinese Buddhist temple in Mississauga called Fo Guanh Shan Temple of Toronto on February 11th during their festival of the Chinese New Year. Originally this is my first time visiting a Buddhist temple in Canada, but the very first Buddhist temple I visited was at the age of six with my family on a trip to Thailand. During my visit in Toronto, I was really overwhelmed with all the different artefacts and architecture laid throughout the temple, the principles and guidance was outrageously fascinating. As we entered, the individuals working had recognized that we weren’t members of the Buddhist community but still displayed genuine hospitality and guided us around the temple. The culture I witnessed in this religious building really caught my interest, especially the unique artefacts and architecture in which I examined using Raymond Williams and Malory Nye’s theory on elite and popular culture and concluding that the people that interacted with this temple were seeking and describing what it means to reach the peaks of human expression. As well as the way the temple had advertised their culture and religion, in which, I analyzed through Stuart Hall’s theory on popular culture and concluding that business views in this community were definitely present.
When we first forward to the entrance I pointed the unique artwork along the white entrance railings. The railings had some sort carvings that appeared to look like dragons, and as we approached to the foyer all I could see were vibrant colours. The lady at the countered enlightened me and explained that architecture on the building of such animals is part of the Chinese culture where animals symbolize characteristics, for example dragons symbolizes prosperity and good fortune. I began to get very curious and anxious to witness many interesting things around this religious building and the lady guided us to our first destination, which was the heart of the temple, the prayer hall. As we approached the doors, an individual that volunteered at the temple had notified us that due to respect to the Buddha everyone must take their shoes off before entering and that absolutely no pictures are allowed. Once I entered the very first that that captured my eyes was the artwork done along the walls of the prayer hall. At the front were three lively sculptures of Buddha for which the people pray towards. I took great interest in the architecture and one of the volunteer that was accepting offerings given from individuals had educated me about the artwork along the walls. In fact, the artwork in the eyes of the Buddhist community is more like a family portrait. In other words, along the walls there was a particular photo and below the photo there was a name written in Chinese, these were all ancestors of the Buddhist religion. What really amazed me is how they had presented their ancestors in such a beautiful and respectable way. The next stop was at the Buddha’s Cultural Figure 2: Picture Taken by Zain Malik - Buddha's Cultural Museum Figure [ 2 ]: Picture Taken by Zain Malik - Buddha's Cultural Museum Museum where many different artefacts, sculptures, and other pieces of art related to Buddhist culture were present. As I walked along the museum each piece of art had been given a cue card that had information on it. The key information was the material used to create such art, the material that was commonly used were: cooper, wood, bronze,...