Following a Faith

Hong Kong is a multicultural city with a multiracial population living in harmony. Tolerance for the customs and traditions of all religions and ethnic groups is part of the city's cosmopolitan philosophy. It is only natural that facilities exist for all in this peaceful and eclectic city. In Hong Kong, everyone is free to openly worship according to their own beliefs. As most of the world's religions have places of worship here, any religious group with special dietary requirements is easily catered for in Hong Kong.

Along with Hong Kong's 80,000 followers of Islam, Muslim visitors can continue their daily rituals in any of the city's mosques. The Jewish Community Centre, meanwhile, has an extensive programme of activities and associated organisations.

The Roman Catholic Church is also well served in Hong Kong. Indeed, it even has its own
Web site where churches and services are listed in both Chinese and English. Other denominations of Hong Kong’s Christian community are also well represented, as are Buddhists, Taoists, Hindus and Sikhs.


Muslim Community
As a Muslim travelling outside your own country, you may have concerns about how to perform your daily religious duties and maintain a correct diet of halal food. Don't worry - you'll have no problems in Hong Kong. So you can enjoy all the city has to offer. There are some 80,000 followers of the Islamic faith in Hong Kong. Most are Chinese - Arab traders introduced the faith to China several centuries ago - but there are also nationals of Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Muslim countries of the Middle East and Africa. Recognised by the Hong Kong Government as the governing body of local Islamic affairs, the Incorporated Trustees of the Islamic Community Fund of Hong Kong has its offices in the Osman Ramju Sadick Islamic Centre in Wan Chai, on Hong Kong Island. The Board of Trustees is responsible for the management and maintenance of mosques and cemeteries, arrangements for the celebration of Muslim festivals - including eid el-Fitr and eid el-Adhha - and the supervision of charitable work.

  • Mosques
    Hong Kong's first mosque was opened soon after the Islamic faith was introduced locally in the early 1850s. Shelley Street Mosque, with its green-and-white minaret, was built in 1915 and still stands on the original site in Central. Two other mosques have been constructed in recent years. The Masjid Ammar on Hong Kong Island, which forms part of the Osman Ramju Sadick Islamic Centre, is named after a Hong Kong Muslim who helped to finance the project. Because of site limitations, this eight-storey building departs from traditional Moorish design in that it has a single minaret but no dome. In addition to the mosque, the complex has a community hall, a library, conference rooms, a clinic, a youth centre, a canteen and offices.

    The third mosque is the HK$26-million Kowloon Mosque and Islamic Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon. This three-storey building, with a handsome dome and four minarets, is highlighted by marble grille work and decorative arches. The mosque is located on the edge of leafy Kowloon Park.

  • Dining
    The same warm welcome you'll receive in Hong Kong's mosques awaits you in the many local restaurants that cater to Muslim visitors. Every rule that governs authentic halal food preparation is strictly followed. Not all items on the menu may be halal, however, so it is always best to enquire before ordering. Most of the restaurants listed below are operated by individual Muslim families who regard such standards as a matter of honour. Or try Chinese vegetarian cuisine that uses bean curd and various delicious vegetables to create exciting and mouthwatering menus. Chinese vegetarian restaurants also serve no meat, dairy products or alcohol. Look out for the Buddhist swastika symbol or lotus blossom on restaurant signs.

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Buddhist Community
Buddhism plays an important part in everyday Hong Kong life. There are more than 400 Buddhist temples in Hong Kong and these smoky shrines, laden with incense and offerings of fruit and flowers, can be seen everywhere. Hong Kong's Buddhist temples often share both space and gods with Taoism. Both are traditional Chinese religions and have large local followings. The temples are busy every day of the year, with devotees giving offerings to the gods in exchange for luck, health and wealth. The most popular is Tin Hau, Queen of Heaven and Protector of all Seafarers. She reflects Hong Kong's long dependence on the sea. Other favourites include Kwan Tai - the God of War, Pak Tai - Supreme Emperor of the Dark Heaven and Hung Shing - God of the South Seas and a weather prophet. The most important day in the Hong Kong Buddhist calendar is Buddha's Birthday. In the lunar calendar, the day is celebrated on the eighth day of the fourth moon (normally in May). The day is a public holiday in Hong Kong and activities celebrating the date can attract more than 300,000 people.

  • Temples
    There are more than 400 Buddhist temples in Hong Kong's and the larger ones should be regarded among Hong Kongs not-to-be-missed sightseeing attractions. Magnificently renovated in traditional Tang-era architecture, the Chi Lin Nunnery in Kowloon is considered a must-see. No nails were used in this multi-million dollar renovation, only wooden dowelling and brackets. The 3.2-hectare site, comprised of various Buddhist halls, is a living museum to the Tang Dynasty (AD618-907). Situated on Lantau Island is Po Lin Monastery, home to the largest, seated, outdoor, bronze Buddha in the world. The statue was welded together from over 200 individually cast bronze plates. It weighs 202 tonnes and stands - or rather sits - 26 metres high and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Hong Kong.

  • Dining
    Buddhists can eat conveniently in Hong Kong. Devotees will have no problem savouring excellent vegetarian food all over Hong Kong, including at the restaurant inside Po Lin Monastery on Lantau Island. There are many excellent Chinese vegetarian restaurants that serve no meat, dairy products or alcohol. Chinese vegetarian cuisine is famous for transforming bean curd, a variety of mushrooms and fresh vegetables into exciting taste sensations. They are located everywhere - just look for the Buddhist swastika symbol or lotus blossom on restaurant signs.

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Christian Community
Hong Kong is home to a lively Christian community. Dating back more than 150 years, Hong Kong Christianity boasts an active practicing base of more than 500,000 people. Visiting worshippers will have no problems finding regular services, as well as numerous community events and activities. The Protestant community is made up of more than 1,300 congregations with more than 50 denominations represented, the largest of which are the Baptists. Other major denominations represented in Hong Kong are Adventist, Anglican, Christian Missionary Alliance, Methodist, Pentecostal and Presbyterian. All sectors of the Christian church play a prominent role in the Hong Kong community, running schools, colleges, hospitals and social centres. Religious services are conducted throughout Hong Kong in Cantonese and English.

  • Churches
    The impressive St John's Cathedral is believed to be the oldest Anglican church in the Far East. Situated on Garden Road, in the heart of Hong Kong's financial district, the cathedral was built in 1847. Originally built in a Gothic style, the structure has undergone considerable additions and renovations. Today, the cathedral remains both a peaceful downtown haven and one of Hong Kong's main centres of Christian worship. The Catholic Cathedral on Hong Kong Island's Caine Road is the physical and spiritual home of Hong Kong's Roman Catholic community. It sits dwarfed by a plethora of towering skyscrapers. Despite the surrounding buildings, the other-era magic of the place can be seen and felt today. Built in 1888, the building is an imposing Gothic-style structure and home to the Bishop of Hong Kong.

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  Information provided by Hong Kong Tourism Board.


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