Fabian Graham
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A new Underworld God of Wealth, and foetus assistance rituals in Singapore
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Chapter 5 contains two ethnographies emphasising the dialogic approach. The first revolves around a conversation with Tua Ya Pek discussing a new Underworld God of Wealth, and the internal logic underlying the creation of new deities in the expanding Underworld pantheon. The second details a ritual performed by Tua Ya Pek to speed the journey of an aborted ‘foetus spirit’ (taishen) through the Underworld and serves as a comparison to the manipulation of malicious foetus ghosts (ying ling) in Malaysia in Chapter 8. Following the foetus ritual, Tua Ya Pek’s self-perceptions and physiological sensations while possessing his spirit medium, tang-ki, are then discussed, providing first-person insights into altered states of perception during trance possession. Analytically, the chapter weighs up the effects of urban redevelopment and governmental promotion of religious harmony as catalysts to unique forms of temple networking and to Tua Di Ya Pek’s far-reaching reinvention to explain why, in Singapore’s contemporary religious landscape, Hell’s enforcers are perceived as the most appropriate deities to approach to assist both the living and the souls of the recently deceased.

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Voices from the Underworld

Chinese Hell deity worship in contemporary Singapore and Malaysia


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