(The four-storey Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum in Chinatown, Singapore)
It is interesting how architecture can change one’s mood in an instant. After our visit to the striking Sri Mariamman Temple, the sight of the Tang dynasty inspired structure from afar was magnetic enough that it is impossible to miss. Without any backgrounder, we went through the main entrance of the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, which we found out (too late) is also a museum.
(Steps away from the colorful Hindu Temple is the glorious Buddhist Temple. Just as that Hinduism and Buddhism are closely related religions that are in some ways parallel and in other ways divergent in theory and practice.)
Our visit turned out to be intimidating at first because a mass/service was ongoing. We thought that we cannot go in until we saw non-Buddhists and the (obvious) tourists who were welcomed. Black robes were even available at the entrance, which I assumed are only for the devotees.
Though I am a Catholic, I found the experience very moving. Just by being so still. I guess it was due to a mixture of fascination with the architecture and the solemnity of the service. Although I noticed that the devotees hardly did mind the shuttering, the temple being one of the main tourist attractions in Chinatown, I let my photo itch be subservient for at least 30 minutes as respect to everyone inside until the service finished.
(Hundred Dragons Hall and Universal Wisdom Hall)
Before the monk gave the final blessings (just like in the Catholic mass), they had a “peace be with you” counterpart-moment. That I found to be a very heartwarming and joyful scenario. Peacefully contagious.
(Slideshow of the two main halls in the first storey of the temple)
Hundred Dragons Hall (Maitreya Hall)
The mass/service is being held in the Hundred Dragons Hall. While the temple itself is already fascinating from a distance, the more you engage yourself with any corner, the ceiling, ornaments, and the like will take you to see it in its actual glorious form. As I tried to recall the other Chinese temples that I have visited, I realized that they are remarkable in their own ways mainly in terms of the aged facade and representation of culture. On the other hand, the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple is on its blissful phase having been launched in 2007 and is interlinked with other elements encompassing friendship and a lot of teamwork as you will trace its origin.
(As you get closer to the main altar, the more you will be impressed by the details. Take note of the dragon prints/embroidery behind.)
(Crowd photography is challenging and satisfying. But that minute I thought it would be better to go “against the traffic” and went near the “less travelled” until they are done.)
(There are too many of them, they appeal like protectors or the holy guards.)
On the temple’s name. Just the same with my shallow orientation of Hinduism when we visited Sri Mariamman Temple, I validated my average understanding of Buddhism (e.g. incense, Tang dynasty) when I pondered on the temple’s name. It was liberating to learn about the sacred relic of Buddha starting from the Sri Lankan legends on how it was found out, to the belief that whoever possessed the Sacred Tooth Relic had a divine right to rule the land, and more. Is there only one tooth relic? I wondered. It turned out that there are at least four existing relics (in China, Taiwan, Japan and Singapore) claimed as the sacred tooth of Buddha.
(Each of them, with the fruits normally present, is a sight to behold.)
Controversy. Before the temple’s soft launch in 2007, it was reported that dental specialists had said that they believed the tooth, said to have been found in Myanmar and given to the temple, belonged to a herbivorous animal. Also, that there was also no widely accepted provenance of a genuine tooth relic ever having emerged from Myanmar. Venerable Shi Fazhao, who conceptualized the temple, quoted in the media as saying: “To me, it has always been real and I have never questioned its authenticity. They can say all they want, I don’t care what they say. If you believe it’s real, then it’s real.”
(The symbolic wall and the door leading through the other hall.)
Why is it called the Hundred Dragon Halls? As you will notice in its glaring solemnity, the elegant walls shrine a hundred of Buddhas.
(In a glance, I thought that Buddhas on both walls are all alike.)
(They are amazingly multi-faced. Toying with the idea of taking photo of each kind? That will be very challenging.)
Universal Wisdom Hall (Avalokitesvara Hall)
Behind the main hall is the Avalokitesvara Hall. Sitting on a lotus throne is an intricate image of Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara (believed to perceive the world’s lamentations).
Just like the Hindu deity Ganesha who has many arms, this Buddhist saint’s six arms represent the following: with his first right hand supporting the head, pondering over the suffering of mankind, while the second right hand holding a pearl symbolises the power to fulfill any sentient wish, the third right hand holding a string of prayer beads symbolises the promise to end all sentient sufferings; on the left, the first hand is pressing the ground to signify granting the wishes of mankind with a firm heart, while the second hand holding a lotus flower symbolises the purification of human deeds. Lastly, the third hand is holding a Dharma wheel, which symbolises the spreading of Dharma.
(Samanthabadra, protector of those born in the year of dragon and snake.)
Along the sides are the zodiac protectors, surrounded by smaller statues of Cintamanicakra Avalokitesvara. We noticed devotees who offered prayers on different corners wherein their concerned protector is located.
(Another charming piece of architecture, door leading to the lively Chinatown Complex.)
Just as we were almost late for our next activity for that day, we exited although our feet did not want to leave (you know that feeling eh?). Although we were already enriched with much fascination, only then we realized that there must be more to see in the other floors.
As I am checking the temple’s website, it turned out that there is indeed MUCH to appreciate. The mezzanine houses the ancestral memorial hall and museum, the second floor has the Lotus Heart Teahouse (sigh) and exhibition hall (calligraphy, paintings and other sculptures), there is the sacred Buddha relics chamber and collection of artifacts in the third floor, and of course the sacred Buddha tooth is in the fourth floor (I regret missing it! Please note that only the Sangha will have access to the inner chamber to conduct the various daily services. The public though may observe the daily services from the public viewing area. The chamber’s curtain is raised twice a day for all in the public area to view the inner chamber and the Sangha.), and on the roof is the prayer wheel. In addition, they provide free vegetarian food to locals and tourists who visit the temple on a daily basis. It clearly means that we must revisit.
(The temple as viewed from the carpark.)
The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple is in South Bridge Road, Chinatown (Singapore). Email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Operating Hours : 7.00am to 7.00pm (Monday to Sunday). Admission is free.
0 thoughts on “Buddha Tooth Relic Temple”
I am kicking myself at what I have missed by not going inside the temple when we visited the city. I had pictures outside, but didn’t really go inside (still kicking myself).
Thanks for making me feel lousy by showing these outstanding images I could have seen with my own eyes 🙂
Kidding aside, great job.
I want to kick myself, too, (kidding) for not realizing earlier than there are more to see upstairs.
everything’s RED! 🙂
Yeah, very Chinese.
wits, we entered this one and i too was mesmerized! did you go up? meron pa pala yan sa taas. we didn’t; we just knew about it when we got back to manila. sayang kasi maganda din, based on pictures.
No, we did not. It was too late when we realized that there’s more to check. We were going to Singapore Flyer that night, mali-late na kase. There’s next time for us.
i love that place. ang ganda ganda ng luob sarap kunan lahat. waaa gusto ko punta din dyan
Sarap magpicture. Kelangan mag dedicate ka ng several hours for this.
Pingback: Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum, Chinatown, Singapore … Travel university
It’s interesting how countries become so enraptured with any relic associated with religious icons. What surprised me is that India – where Buddha died – hasn’t claimed any “tooth relic”.
In Rome, there are at least two churches I visited where some of the artifacts were claimed to have been taken from the site where Jesus Christ was crucified. If these were verified as true, well, only the gleam in the faithful’s eyes can attest to them.
I was reading about the origin of the tooth relic and India was initially mentioned. Then, to Sri Lanka.
nice. i thought it’s just the one near bencolen street where the chinese and the hindu temple stand side by side.
We did not get the chance to visit those temples.
Oh I didn’t know it was a museum cum temple. We just walked by it on our way to finding a suitable resto because we were already famished by then. he he he
Same here. It really pays to research before going there. Hindi bale sa susunod na lang. Where did you eat in Chinatown?
Dramatic interiors, it must be a spiritual experience just taking everything in!
Yes, it’s dramatic and majestic.
Father Giovanni Maria Leonardi
Peace and Love!
I’m a Capuchin monk of the Holy House of Loreto in Marche in the centre of
Through the site http://www.santafamigliatv.it we
are committed via Internet for the new evangelization.
To this aim, we ask you for one of your film footage. (any format DVD,
VHS, minicassette) you have already realized, so as to include in our
Schedules and our Archives.
The topic could be the presentation of your institute, your busisness
vocation, your missions, ….
The movie will be offered for a year (once a week) and permanently in our
archive always freely available.
In support of this activity religion we ask you for your contribution of
We invite you to know the meantime visitors to our site.
in SS Hearts of Jesus and Mary
P. Giovanni Maria Leonardi
ganda ng photos mo! 🙂 it’s so alive!
the interiors are bold, grand, and full of drama!….the third from the last photo, door ornament ba yun? it looks just the same as the door ornaments of San Marco Basilica in Venice. Hubby found it weird that a wolf or whatever you call the animal should be holding the door latch =)
Yes, that’s an ornament. Though I think it’s symbolic in a way.
OMG, ang gaganda ng mga taken photos mo. Parang nagbakasyon lang ako with you. Nag asian tour ka pala. Talagang malinis ang Singapore. Kahit sa pictures, kitang-kita.
Thanks, Red. We visited (mostly) Singapore and Malaysia more than a month ago.
wow, the temple is huge and majestic!
It’s a temple cum museum. 🙂 I heard there are a bountiful of temples in Penang.
nice to see your version of the trip. i have been there too pero parang mas detailed and reprting mo hehe. good job.
Yes, I remember you’ve been there and that photo you took with the monks in it was remarkable.
nice shots! too bad i wasn’t able to visit Chinatown when i was in Singapore, but i had buddha and temples overload in Bangkok!
I take note of the temple overload. 😉
whoa, ang comprehensive!
question: can a hindu be a buddhist at the same time? la lang. dito kasi sa pinas they have buddhas but they get married in our catholic church…
Cool. My flatmate went on leave and is now in Singapore for a week respite before travelling to the Philippines. I’m sure andami rn nyang kwento at photos. I love your photos. Para n rin akong nakarating sa Buddha Temple.
these Buddhist temples are wonderful works of art. You can sense they are truly special for the folks who revere them.
Pingback: Khao Lak Thailand - 3 Temples Tour – Phangnga, Thailand (phang nga tempels, dra gad n cave temple in pangnga) - Seaside Resort