Monday, June 7, 2010

Accidental tourist - Vesak Day celebrations in Singapore

For Vesak Day, I took a leap of faith and went to places I never ventured before….together with my friends, we stepped into Chinese temples and I saw a world that's totally alien to me even though it's in my backyard (literally at times). To a certain extent,I was a "fish out of water" as I didn’t know whether the temple devotees will object to my presence holding a camera and taking photos of the religious activities during this special day for them...

In the night before the Vesak holidays, I hopped down to Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery (better known to me as “Bright Hill Temple”), one of the largest temples in Singapore and best known for it’s “3 steps 1 bow” ceremony held only during Vesak Day. I am challenged in using my DSLR for the 1st time at night but I do need to “practice, practice, practice”.

The temple’s website showed many many places I didn’t manage to go in my short 2-hours there but here are some photos.

Photo of one of the temple towers in bright lights

Photo of 3-steps-1-bow ceremony

(out of focus) Photo of a man praying before Buddha

On Vesak Day itself, I went down to the other side of Little India at a temple called Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple” or “Temple of 1000 lights”. This is an earmarked historic site by Singapore National Heritage Board. It’s a Thai-Buddhist temple with a 15m Buddha. Again, I have never been anywhere near here all my life (this is becoming a “story of my life” statement) so we decided to drop by there….3 photos showing what we saw:

Photo of 15m Buddha surrounded by hundreds of lights

Photo of worshippers putting down incense sticks outside temple

Photo of devotees placing gold-leaf on statute of Buddha

Of course, I did the thing that most people will do in such places, I did my gold leaf placement and wish for good luck and health as well!!

Opposite this Temple of 1000 lights was another temple called “Leong San Buddhist Temple” or “Dragon Mountain Temple. Unfortunately, I couldn’t capture any nice photos of this place. I totally blame this on my limits as a photographer as it was definitely a shame since as the temple has some lovely sculptures on its roof….

But there was a dragon dance troupe that came by while I was at the location so I will be showing some shots of the dragon & lion dances instead:

Photo of dragon head coming out of temple – it is a bit orange

Photos of the dragon dance troupe hard at work

Photo of the pink lion that followed after the dragon dance

Next was a MRT train ride down to Chinatown for a trip to the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. Its website is quite impressive so do hop over if you have some time: Again 1st time venture in there even though I heard much about the huge complex of some 4-5 floors with a roof top garden coupled with the largest cloisonné Buddha Prayer Wheel in the world. It houses a museum together with a shopping gallery cum library within its premises. During Vesak Day, the priceless tooth relic is displayed for veneration. Here goes the photos:

Photo of the front entrance

Photo of the countless candle tea-lights (again only during Vesak Day)

Photo of girl tying on prayer knot by monk

Personally, I feel that I do not do much justice to this gorgeous place with my 3 photos cos it’s quite beautiful in that place and pretty impressive.

Anyway, till the next time...Onto the unknown and beyond.....

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