A full house of some 450 attended the 2016 UniSIM Cultural China Public Lecture, held on October 29, 2016 at the News Centre Auditorium, to listen to Mr Wang Luxiang give his lecture on "Chinese Folk Beliefs: From Mazu Worship to the Procession of Deities".
In his welcome address, Professor Eddie Kuo, Director of UniSIM Centre for Chinese Studies (UCCS) highlighted that Mr Wang has been the host of Pheonix TV's Cultural Kaleidoscope, a programme that explores the diversity of Chinese culture through time and geographical space, for over 11 years. The longevity of the programme has been largely due to Mr Wang's outspoken, candid and sharp intellect. At the same time, he continues to offer insightful views on the charm of Chinese culture in plain language that is accessible to a wider public audience.
In his signature candid style, Mr Wang marvelled the audience with his deep historical knowledge of Chinese folk beliefs, in particular, how Chinese communities around the world, and especially in this region, came to worship Mazu, Goddess of the Sea. During the talk, Mr Wang recounted his visits to Mazu temples in various places including China, Taiwan and Singapore where Mazu is depicted in different forms and known by different titles, including "Mazu" (妈祖)- "Mother-Ancestor", Tianhou (天后)- "Empress of Heaven", Tianfei (天妃)- "Celestial Consort", Tianhou Shengmu (天后圣母)- "Heavenly Holy Mother". Nevertheless, he observed that the common role played by Mazu in these overseas Chinese communities was not only a religious one, but more importantly, a societal one. Deities like Mazu provided a sense of belonging to the diverse groups of new immigrant Chinese. Additionally, they fulfilled social needs such as playing the role of moral compass which in turn helped to stabilise these newly established societies, as well as a cultural guide to preserve traditional beliefs and practices.
During the question-and-answer segment, Mr Wang was joined by Mr Tan Chai Puan and Mr Toh Lam Huat, a retired journalist and an expert on Mazu worship in Singapore, who also moderated the discussion. Mr Tan is one of the key organisers of the annual parade of deities in Johore Bahru which has a 140-year history. This annual parade has become a symbol of Chinese culture, attracting researchers, scholars, journalists and historians from Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and even China, to come and study this unique practice which is far more elaborate than similar parades in China itself. Through the lively questions and discussion between audience and speakers, one key take away from this public lecture was that the deity Mazu, as a symbol of love, compassion, and morality continues to bring about much needed unity in today's fragmented world.
At the end of the lecture, Professor Kuo presented souvenirs to each of the speakers on behalf of the three co-organisers.
The public lecture was jointly organised by SIM University, Lianhe Zaobao and Business China.
2016新跃中华文化讲座由著名文化学者王鲁湘先生与大家说 “从妈祖崇拜到游神: 谈华人民间信仰” 。10月29日下午在报业中心大礼堂举行的讲座吸引了约450人出席，现场座无虚席。 为了满足无法到現場的听众，主办单位特别通过早报网安排了现场直播,让听众也可以上网观看精彩讲座。
讲座筹委会主席兼新跃中华学术中心主任郭振羽教授在致欢迎辞时强调, 王先生兼有多重身份，但其中最重要的角色是凤凰卫视 (微博)的著名主持人。其主持了近十年的《文化大观园》节目，已然成了中国传统文化的媒体符号。王先生以宏观的视野将五花八门的文化见解浓缩成通俗易懂的语言，让许多海外的华人观众深入了解中华文化的演变。
Welcome speech by UCCS Director Professor Eddie Kuo
(From left) UCCS Deputy Director Associate Professor Foo Tee Tuan; Mr Tan Chai Puan; Mr Toh Lam Huat;
UCCS Director Professor Eddie Kuo; Mr Wang Luxiang; SIM University President Prof Cheong Hee Kiat;
and Mr Peter Ong, Associate Editor of Lianhe Zaobao
(从左起) 新跃中华学术中心副主任符诗专副教授；陈再藩先生; 杜南发先生; 新跃中华学术中心主任郭振羽教授;
During Mr Wang Luxiang's talk
Annex room for extra guests
(From left) Mr Peter Ong, Associate Editor of Lianhe Zaobao; UCCS Director Professor Eddie Kuo; Mr Tan Chai Puan;
Mr Wang Luxiang; Ms Josephine Gan, General Manager of Business China; and Mr Toh Lam Huat