The Gods of My Grandparents

There is a temple in Danang, Vietnam.

It belongs to the Cao Dai Sect. The temple carries the words, “All Religions Have the Same Principle”.

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Above: The board at the Cao Dai Temple in Danang, Vietnam. The Cao Dai Sect counts many leading religious figures and prophets, such as Buddha and Jesus amongst its saints. 

Dropping in to say “hello” and “thank you” to the Guanyin at Waterloo Street today, I could not help but be struck at how serene this place made me feel within its walls. This was a place of my childhood, where my grandma had brought me, where I still go before moments and events of great significance and/or uncertainty. I had come here before I headed West to Europe; I came today to close the circle.

As I offered my three sticks of incense alongside supplicants dressed in a whole spectrum of ways, I could not help but feel lucky that all I needed to say was “thank you”. I am not religious by any measurable sense; morality is too great a burden for me, and I am no Atlas. But in the shadow of skyscrapers there are small gods who still exist. They bear the memories and ways of a Singapore often drowned out by Prosperity Gospels and Narratives.

I have stood in the soaring arches of Basilicas, marvelled at the great domes of mosques, breathed quiet in the majesty of venerable mountains. But there is something different about coming home to spend a few moments in the divinities of your grandparents.

This post originally appeared on my instagram account about a year ago, when I first returned home after half a year on a strange, cold continent. I came across it again this year, and thought it was meaningful and powerful enough to share it. Of course, it reeks of narcissism. But i do like my writing sometimes, imperious and pretentious as it may occasionally sound. 

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