Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Buddha's Tooth Relic Temple and Museum


Last weekend's meandering about Chinatown took me to the Buddha's Tooth Relic Temple and Museum. This facility houses both an active temple and sanctuary for Buddhist relics and other historical pieces. 


The temple was constructed in 2008 (or, as I was informed, the 2552nd year of the Buddha era), making it one of the newer additions to Chinatown. 

After wandering in, one becomes struck at the grandness of the place. Thousands of small Buddha's lined the walls, while larger figures of important Buddhist deities were scattered throughout the complex. Offerings of coins, food, and burning incense were performed by devotees, though my personal attempt at lighting the incense didn't go particularly well.

The rooftop featured an enormous prayer wheel, which you can see in my first Singaporean video below:



The fourth floor featured the Buddha's tooth that serves as the namesake of the temple. It lies encased in a gold stupa in a separate room, which YourSingapore informs me is made of 320kg of gold! The whole chamber can be viewed through a wide glass divider. There was another prayer service in progress. so while no photographs were allowed on the floor, the spiritual experience was certainly enhanced by the absence of flash-photo-happy tourists.

The second and third floors featured museum-type galleries of Buddhist art and sculptures. I was especially excited by the figure seen below, as I had seen a very similar ceramic warrior just a few months earlier in Chicago.



Many of my new Singaporean friends stated that they haven't visited the Temple, which greatly surprised me. There is a little bit of everything here - whether you are seeking a spiritual experience, a history lesson, or just a fascinating place to take pictures, the Buddha's Tooth Temple has all of this and more. The "more" that I plan to return for is a vegetarian eatery in the basement, which was closed when I visited.

Without further ado, to the pictures!

The blue hair is often seen in Buddhist imagery, symbolizing universal compassion
Samantabadra, or Samantabhadra, is a bodhisattva (enlightened being). The elephant has six tusks, representing one's triumph over attachment to the six senses (the mind is the sixth)

Didn't catch this guy's name, too busy examining his four attack options
Budai, or "Big Belly Maitreya," is often identified with the future Buddha Maitreya.
Commonly confused in Western culture with Gautama Buddha (aka Buddha)
Skanda, a god-realm general who was given a Buddha's tooth relic to protect
Reverse view of the central temple area

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