Journey into the heart of Chinatown
A delegation from Darul Arqam Singapore (The Muslim Converts’ Association of Singapore) was at a Chinese Buddhist temple in South Bridge Road for about 2 hours on Saturday, 25 April 2015, to learn about Chinese Buddhism and to strengthen inter-faith ties.
I was among the 18 people who visited the beautiful 5-storey Tang-dynasty styled building, the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum, which was declared open by President Nathan in May 2007.
We were taken by the temple host, a lady, to view the various sections of the temple, and at each section, she provided commentaries and answered our questions. We used head-sets to listen to her commentaries clearly. Two Chinese lady converts, among a few others in our group, even asked her questions in Mandarin.
The highlight of the museum is what Buddhists believe is the tooth of the Buddha, located in a stupa weighing 3.5 tonnes and composed of 320 kg of gold donated by devotees.
Mr Ibrahim Heng, a recent convert and an active volunteer at Darul Arqam, was also in the group. “We learned much about the temple, history and culture of Buddhists. The relics in the museum section of the temple building gave us much knowledge of Buddhist history,” he said.
Mr Ibrahim almost missed seeing the tooth of the Buddha. “I was not able to see the tooth properly because it was placed on an elaborate stupa in the no-entry-to-public enclosure. Luckily, I was alerted to a picture of the tooth displayed outside the enclosure.” Photo-taking is disallowed in the museum.
“The visit was conducted to further extend our inter-religious friendship and for inter-faith understanding,” explained Ms Nur Azreen Abdul Kalam, Executive Officer, Da’wah Division of the Association, who let the Darul Arqam delegation. “Like you, I’m sure the others have enjoyed the visit and learned much from it.”
Indeed Singapore has developed a healthy state of close friendship among the various communities by having organised visits to temples, churches and mosques and cultural establishments to learn more about each other’s religion, tradition and culture. Being a multi-racial, multi-religious society, building trust and understanding with one another is important in nurturing religious harmony. By respecting our different religions, we have been living peacefully as Singaporeans. And we want this trust, understanding, tolerance and respect to grow further for sustained harmonious living.
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By: Shaik Kadir