Sunday, March 04, 2007

Photography: 元宵节 - A Walk in Devotion

元宵节 - A Walk in Devotion
Balestier Road , Race Course Road and Serangoon Road
4th March 2007
Photography and Editing by mybearbrick

(Yuan Xiao Jie or Lantern Festival) marks the end of the Chinese Lunar New Year. It falls on the 15th day of the new year (Chun Jie or Spring Festival) in the lunar calender, hence it earns the name Chap Goh Mei (which translates to evening of the 15th day). For those who believe that I have got my information wrong, you can verify its true significance from here and here.

As part of the Chinese tradition, Chinese who are devotees of Taoism or Buddhism will visit the temples on this very special day to pray for a good year ahead. I also followed the tradition and made this day a shooting day based on the theme of "Devotion".


First stop was 大悲院 (Tai Pei Yun or Tai Pei Home and Temple) at Jalan Kemaman, off Balestier Road. Over the years, Tai Pei Yun has earned itself a strong community of devotees from across the island. During major religious events, such as the Lunar Chinese new Year or Hungry Ghosts Festivals, the temple will set up prayer sessions and welcome devotees to pray . Tai Pei Yun is also a "home" to many ancestral tablets and I happen to know people who have their ancestors' tablets kept there. So I do visit the temple very often.
Today, the temple invited all devotees to a free vegetarian feast at their temple. I took this opportunity to snap a few shots of this bustling event.

Tai Pei Yun Temple.

Devotees buying offerings.
Devotees lighting up the joss sticks from these lotus-shaped candles.

Inside the temple.

Once the table have ten occupants, the volunteers will serve up the vegetarian dishes.

The meal is free but if you would like pack some to take-away, you can buy from the stalls.

A couple of hawkers peddling their buddhist charms.
A famous and devoted Hong Kong celebrity joined in a charity fund-raising.
The Tai Pei Yun residence for the the temple nuns.

After Tai Pei Yun, I went to Jalan Besar and incidently found a few temples along Race Course Road. First was 龙山寺 (Leong San See Temple). I was not able to snap some interiors since I was not too sure if I could do so. However, the grandeur of the temple was magnificent. The interiors housed Buddha and some Taoism deities. One should visit this temple in order to feel its spirituality.

Nothing can stop the devotees from offering prayers.

After 龙山寺, I came to the 释迦牟尼菩提迦耶寺 (Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple) which is just a few units away. From the first impression, I already know that this temple must have originated from Thailand by telling from its architecture. One unique feature of a pure Buddhist temple is that no footwear is allowed inside the temple. I have been to one Burmese Buddhist temple and now this, both requires devotees to remove their footwear. The temple is not very big inside, however, it has a very tall ceiling. The reason is because within the temple, sits a huge 15m tall statue of Buddha styled with an aura of 'thousand lights". Read about the story of Gautama (aka Siddharta or Sakyamuni) here (Wikipedia). I gave my offerings and made my prayers, then requested if photography was allowed. Apparantly, only photographs of the 15-m Buddha is allowed. Inside the temple, there is an encased stature of the famous four-faced Brahma (learn more from here). At the foot of the 15-m Buddha, there is a diorama depicting the life until enlightenment of Buddha which is very interesting. The most magnificent feature of this temple is that underneath huge Buddha statue, there is a chamber inside the statue, accessible only from the rear. You will then have to walk down a two steps and climb into the chamber with your head stooped low (for the size of caucasians will be a difficult task). Inside the chamber, is a 1.5x scale of a the 'Sleeping' Buddha. According to the descriptions in the temple, this is the exact position of the mighty Buddha before he departed from the human world. Strictly no photography and touching is allowed in here.

The Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple
The front of the temple was guarded by two tigers instead of the usual lions.

The 15-metre tall Buddha statue.
Sunlight shines through the coloured glass and onto the Buddha.

Last stop is the Sri Vadapathira Kaliamman Temple along Serangoon Road. There are three, if I am not wrong, Hindu temples along here. This temple is the newest. First of all, I must sincerely apologize for the wrong name that was printed on the pictures. Apparantly, Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple is another temple which has had a long history and located in the heart of Little India, Singapore. (Learn more about Sri Vadapathira Kaliamman Temple from here).

That marks the end of my photoshoot. Hope you hae enjoyed reading my article.


1 comment:

Laurens said...

not bad leh...can capture almost still of crocs