Religion in Hong Kong - An Interfaith Harmony

The former British colony is a densely populated area that is home to diverse people who enjoy trading and pursuing other livelihoods. It is not a communist state, unlike mainland China with people being free to practice their own faiths. However, no religion in Hong Kong claims supremacy and the residents consider their faith to be a personal thing and live in communal harmony. The major religions that you can expect to come across while in Hong Kong includes the following:-

Buddhism in Hong Kong

Buddhism in Hong Kong
Goddess Marici at a Buddhist Temple in Hong Kong (Source)
Buddhism is one of the most practised religions in Hong Kong and has greatly influenced the local culture of the port city. There are several Buddhist temples across the city with the Po Lin Monastery located on the Lantau Island famous for its bronze Buddha statue that is visited by hundreds of tourists every year. The temples and Buddhist organisations look after the spread of education and social welfare as well. The birth date of Lord Buddha had been declared as a public holiday in 1997, which replaced the Queen’s birthday as a state holiday. The University of Hong Kong also includes a centre for Buddhist Studies with the Chinese University of Hong Kong having a similar centre for pursuing the study of Humanist Buddhism.

Taoism & Confucianism 

Taoism in Hong Kong
Wong Tai Sin Taoist Temple in Hong Kong (Source)
Over 43% of the locals follow the teachings of Confucius, the revered Chinese Philosopher. Taoism is followed avidly by many sections of the society, giving rise to Neo Confucianism that worships opposite powers of nature. However, the West finds it too complex and only understands the representatives denoting the opposites as Yin and Yang. The ancient rituals of this religion in Hong Kong remain prevalent to date. Taoism offers to heal the physically weak and strives to banish the evil spirits via the age-old customs that have remained in vogue for over 2000 years now.

Christian Religion in Hong Kong

Church in Hong Kong
Rosary Church
Hong Kong is also home to 360,000 Catholics and 480,000 Protestants with numerous churches holding regular services on Sundays and Holy Days. Baptism and weddings also take place in the cathedrals with the devout Christians ensuring to attend the services that are held in both English and Cantonese. A few of the Roman Catholic Churches also have services in Tagalog due to a huge number of Filipino immigrants who happen to be practising Catholicism. The Christian organisations and churches run by the devotees of this religion in Hong Kong are active in providing humanitarian aid and run schools, nurseries, clinics, orphanages, hospitals and nursing homes to help people in distress.

Islam 

Kowloon Mosque
Islam in Hong Kong
Home to 300,000 followers of Islam with only one-third of them being local residents, the rest of the Muslim population in Hong Kong consist of Middle Eastern, African, and South Asian immigrants. There has been a spurt in the Muslim population of Hong Kong of late, with almost 120,000 of them being Philippine settlers who work as domestic aids for the foreign expatriates.  Apart from mosques, it is the” Islamic Union of Hong Kong” that serves to unify the religion in Hong Kong island and Kowloon. The Friday mosque prayers have many Muslims renting rooms to hold regular religious events and prayer meetings. The community is involved in running schools for religious studies and offer medical care as well as financial aid to help the needy.

Hinduism in Hong Kong

Hinduism in Hong Kong
Shrine to Tin Hau at Repulse Bay near Hong Kong (Source)
Hong Kong has 40,000 Hindus residing across the city. Almost all of them are immigrants from India, who have set up a Hindu Temple at Happy Valley. Apart from celebrating the Hindu festivals, the community centre attached to the temple is reputed for its spiritual guidance classes, yoga centre and various community activities.

Sikhism

Sikhism in Hong Kong
Khalsa Diwan Sikh Temple, Hong Kong (Source)
Hong Kong also has a small Sikh community of about 8000 devotees in the area. The smallest minority of religions in Hong Kong, the Sikhs are known to have migrated from the Punjab province of India and reached Hong Kong as a part of the British Army sometime in the 19th century. The current practising Sikhs run a Gurdwara (Sikh Temple) at Wan Chai that offers temporary shelter to people who find it hard to obtain accommodation in Hong Kong. The service is provided irrespective of colour, creed or faith.

Judaism 

Synagogue in Hong Kong
Synagogue in Hong Kong
Judaism was a firmly entrenched religion in Hong Kong when the Jewish merchants accompanied the British to set up a colony. The current Jewish community adds up to only 4000 with a majority of European expatriates and visitors from Israel and USA. Three synagogues serve the community with the community centre being in charge of the activities. Jewish education is also provided to the children of the expatriates by “The Carmel School Association.”

Although a part of China, Hong Kong is known for its tolerance of religion. Each individual is free to pursue his/her own beliefs. The local population, along with the immigrants, choose to follow their own religions in Hong Kong, although it might not be strictly associated with their professions. The citizens of Hong Kong are not fanatics and are open-minded about religious beliefs choosing to live in harmony with other communities.

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