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Video Credit: GUNNER Travel and Event

Buddhists in Singapore and the world over celebrate the birth, enlightenment and death of Gautama Buddha on Vesak Day, (Thursday 7 May) a time of joy, peace and reflection - yes, today is a public holiday in Singapore.

Beginning at the crack of dawn, devout Buddhists would congregate at temples for a ceremony including Singapore’s most iconic place of worship, the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple in Chinatown, across from Maxwell Food Centre. The Buddhist flag would be hoisted, and hymns sung in praise of the Buddha, the Dharma (his teachings), and the Sangha (his disciples). 

Did you know the rest of the day is spent on worthy causes, as devotees believe that performing good deeds will multiply merit many times over. Much of the days festivities could not be carried out today across many cities due to Circuit Breaker Restrictions.

Usually, Buddhists organise mass blood donations at hospitals, visit homes for the aged or distribute gifts of cash to the needy. Others release caged birds and animals, a symbol of liberation for Buddhists, or spend hours chanting mantras. 

Before the Circuit Breaker we would see devotees in Singapore practice a two-hour-long ‘three-step, one-bow’ ritual, taking steps on both knees, bowing at every third step as they pray for world peace, personal blessings and repentance.

Next Vesak Day head to Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery on Bright Hill Road for a peek at one such procession. Post Circuit Breaker I urge you all to take a moment to drop into the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple in Chinatown. It's a rather cathartic experience.

Singapore has further strengthened our defences against the COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019). For more information, click here.

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