The rain did not dampen Vesak Day

Report and pictures by: 
Gary Goh

A heavy downpour did not stop as many as 1,000 devotees turning up at Thekchen Choling temple along Beatty Lane on Vesak Day morning to mark the biggest day in the Buddhist calendar.

Devotees from all parts of Singapore packed the carnival-like tentage along Beatty Lane, which was closed to traffic for the celebrations, to perform annual rituals such as “bathing” and dressing the Buddha statue.

The temple’s spiritual director, Lama Namdrol Tulku Rinpoche, 39, felt that the rain in the morning could have been a blessing in disguise.

Not only did the rain bring cool weather, it was also a “chance to clean devotees’ minds before they could accept Buddha’s teachings”, he said.

But the rain did delay the annual unveiling of the temple’s centrepiece attraction – the Shakyamuni Buddha Thangka, a 13m by 9m silk tapestry with embroidery bearing Buddha’s image.

Thangkas are teaching tools depicting Buddhas and are meant to be prayed to in place of a statue.

The crowds were unfazed by the more than one-hour wait for the rain to stop.

After a prayer ceremony led by Lama Rinpoche, the Thangka, which was hoisted by a crane more than four storeys high, was unveiled, alongside bursting poppers filled with confetti and balloons.

Unfortunately, the drizzle returned after about 15 minutes, sending a small army of temple volunteers to pack up the Thangka within minutes.

Sounding disappointed, organising committee member for the Thangka unveiling ceremony, Ms Joanne Hau, 41, said: “We even held a rehearsal last week for the unveiling ceremony and the skies were blue, with the Thangka flapping in the wind.”

This is the seventh year that the Thangka has been unveiled here.

The article related to these pictures was first published in The New Paper on May 25, 2013.