The Major Religions Of Southeast Asia

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1. Key Concepts a) Four major religions prevalent in Southeast Asia: 1) Islam in Indonesia and Malaysia, the southern portion of Thailand, northwestern tip of Burma, and in Central Vietnam (among the Cham areas). 2) Buddhism is prominent in Burma, Thailand, and Cambodia. In Vietnam it was introduced by the Chinese and remains in the cultural periphery. 3) Christianity exists in areas of Indonesia, Vietnam (Catholicism), and eastern Burma. 4) Hinduism is found in Bali, interior Java, Sumatra, and Kalimantan. Remote areas of Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia also practice Hinduism. Other religious influences in Southeast Asia include Taoism/Confucianism (located in major cities such as Bangkok, Saigon, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, and other commercial hubs) and ethnic religions (popular in the interior of West Irian, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Sumatra, Burma, Laos, Vietnam, and Thailand). b) Hinduism spread from Cambodia to Thailand, Laos, and southern Vietnam. Knappert explicates that merchants and priests were not entirely essential to the spread of Hindu beliefs and rituals in Southeast Asia. Rather, knowledge of the gods and their proper veneration were transported from “village to village” without the influence of priests or merchants. Although the names of the gods varied between cults, their specific characteristics were well understood. Additionally, Kings equated themselves with the Hindu god Shiva in order to achieve ‘immortality’ and widespread reverence. c) The Temple of Mendut is an extremely important Buddhist temple in Java that contains representations of both Buddhist and Hindu deities. On the outside of the temple, there are eight Bodhisattvas of the Mahayana sect along with depictions of Javanese kings and qu... ... middle of paper ... ...souls of the dead keep a close watch over the health and wellbeing of their progeny. 2) The Nias believe that sickness is a sign of a recent violation of ancestral laws that must be amended in order to ward off death. 3) The Torajas are a nomadic people and therefore they keep all of their ancestral statues in a temple that they visit on occasion. l) Seeing, Hearing, and Feeling Spirits (examples): Spirits can take the form of an animal in order to communicate with the living or they can converse while remaining unseen. Spirits can cause death and/or impregnate women if one is not careful. 1) The Ngaju Dayaks believe that some spirits (kambe) impregnate women, producing children that “run to the wood” as soon as they are able. 2) The Torajas contend that souls can induce dizzy spells, rashes, headaches, fever, and other general ailments. Shockingly, they also believe
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