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A Beautiful Refuge For Your Mind In The Bustling City

2093 words - 9 pages

The Lian Shan Shuang Lin Monastery which was better known as the Siong Lim Temple in Hokkien is a popular Buddhist monastery among the Chinese community. Back in the days during the British colonial rule, Chinese immigrants from South China came to Singapore to seek a better living and together, they brought with them their religion from home. Most of them identified themselves as either Buddhist or Taoist and one of them was Low Kim Pong who initiated the building of this Buddhist monastery.
After years of hard work, Low was a successful business man in his 60s and was a devoted Buddhist. As mystically as it sounds, the thought to build the monastery was due to a particular dream that both ...view middle of the document...

Strange enough, although different architecture styles of the various counties can be observed in the monastery, they seem to blend in seamlessly with one another to give us a better picture of the immigrant communities in Singapore. Built with “Min Nan” Style according to the traditional Chinese courtyard (Heyuan, 合院) layout, the monastery was the biggest Buddhist temple in Singapore then (even till now). With a similar architecture to their home in South China, the monastery provided a mental refuge for the early Chinese immigrants as they seek to find a place that remind them of their home and identity.
Going forward in time, the monastery together with the people went through numerous events of Singapore’s history such as the Japanese occupation from 1942 to 1945 and Singapore’s independence in 1965. As Singapore’s population grow and the city state develops under a new government rule, the monastery, which the Hokkien Chinese called as Siong Lim Temple, shrank in size. From the original 40,000 square metres that Low donated, the monastery was reduced by nearly half of its original size to 20,000 square metres as the surrounding vacant space was developed into public housing and residences for the people. Located in a newly developed neighbourhood in Toa Payoh, the monastery’s popularity however did not shrink like its physical space.
In the 1970s, Siong Lim Temple was known to almost every Chinese household. With more than half of the Chinese population having Buddhism as their religion, many visit the monastery to practice their religion. Being the biggest Buddhism monastery ever built, Siong Lim temple was always packed with devoted Buddhists even on ordinary days without any special festivals. To some people, visiting the temple is part and parcel of their daily life as they seek to learn more about Buddhism as a way of living. As one walk into the monastery, they will need to enter the Shan Men (山门) which is the main entrance of the monastery with three doors. These doors are no ordinary ones, they are painted with fierce-looking warriors and Buddhist Guardians that look down onto the people as if they will remove all evil from the people before they step into the sacred place. Even the door knockers are made to resemble the head of the Jiaotu (椒圖 which is the 9th son of the Dragon in myths) to guard the monastery. It would be rather intimidating for a child during his first visit but perhaps to some, these guardians provided them with a peace of mind as they continue their worship in the temple, leaving the mundane yet hectic life at the back of their mind, at least temporarily.
As they enter the main entrance, bearing in mind not to step onto the base of the door, they will enter an entirely different world even though it is only a few metres away from someone else’s house in the neighbourhood. The red roofs which are distinct and decorated with status and details, made a sharp contrast to the newly built flats in the background....

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