Most of 823,000 ethnic Chinese people are living in Southern Vietnam among distinct dialectical groups. Each maintains its own pantheon of gods; the majority worships standardized Thien Hau. The Hakka in Buu Long are the only group that worships the craft-master gods. This difference creates a challenging gap between the subgroups and reveals the unorthodox nature of the Hakka’s traditions. The purpose of this paper is investigate the continuous efforts to achieve “evolving standardization” and solidarity through the charismatic efforts of the local Hakka elites in Buu Long by their liturgical transformation.Design/methodology/approachThe study further discusses the multilateral interaction and hidden discourses by applying Watson’s (1985) theory of standardization and orthodoxy as well as Weller’s (1987) concept of context-based interpretation.FindingsTruthfully, when facing pressures, the Hakka in Southern Vietnam decided to transform their non-standard worship of the craft masters into a more integrative model, the Thien Hau cult, by superimposing the new cult on the original platform without significant changes in either belief or liturgical practice. The performance shows to be the so-called “the caterpillar’s spirit under a butterfly’s might” case.Research limitations/implicationsThe transformation reveals that the Hakka are currently in their endless struggles for identity and integration, even getting engaged in a pseudo-standardization.Social implicationsThis Hakka’s bottom-up evolutionary standardization deserves to be responded academically and practically.Originality/valueThe paper begins with a setting of academic discussions by western writers in this area and then moves on to what makes the practical transformation, how does it happen, and what discourses are hidden underneath.
Asian Education and Development Studies – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jan 6, 2020
Keywords: Standardization; Integration; Craft-master gods; Hakka; Superimpose; Thien Hau