Sunday, November 1, 2009

Neighborhood Temples

I don't know if I've mentioned the religious pluralism in our neighborhood, but it's pretty neat. If you look off our balcony, you can see a Hindu temple. If you look out our living room window, you can see a Chinese Buddhist temple. And across the street from our building is a huge Muslim mosque. I went on a walk the other day and snapped some photos of the two temples. I don't have any pictures of the mosque because I don't really know the rules for what to wear...or how to act. I figured maybe I should go home and Google "mosque etiquette" before trying to brave that one. For now, here's a photo I borrowed from The mosque was featured on the website for its innovative, modern design. The whole building is shiny silver with really bright colors across the front. The ceilings are really high and it looks like it's really spacious on the inside. Next, the Hindu temple. Hinduism is a fascinating religion to me, mostly because I identify with some of the principles- I practice yoga and I'm a vegetarian. And I think if there was a contest for coolest-looking religious buildings, Hindu temples would probably win. Plus, it seems as though there's a god or goddess for everything, and each one has more character than the last- I mean, who doesn't appreciate a god that looks like an elephant? Some shots of the outside of the temple:
The goddess featured over the entrance of the temple is Saraswati, the goddess of wisdom. She rides on a peacock to demonstrate that beauty and appearances should always be subordinate to wisdom. The temple has lots of brightly colored peacocks as decoration.This is one of the figures posted next to the entrance: We can often hear the music played during services from our apartment, and it's really lovely, but we still haven't been inside the temple- it seems that whenever it isn't locked it's very busy. However, I'm planning on going to yoga there this weekend- apparently they have free yoga classes every Sunday. It should be an adventure- yoga in a building with no air-conditioning...on the equator. Why not?

I went inside the Buddhist temple and took a look around. The lady working behind the desk was really friendly, and a little surprised when I told her that I lived across the street. Us Westerners aren't too common around here.

This is a traditional Chinese guardian lion at the entrance of the temple. Guardian lions are often depicted with a pearl in their mouths. The pearl (a large stone ball) can roll around in the mouth, but can't fall out. Usually the lions are in pairs, flanking either side of an entrance. I've seen these in a lot of places in Singapore, but they're especially common outside of Buddhist temples, as lions have special significance in Buddhism- the Buddha's teachings are sometimes referred to as the "lion's roar," and the lion stands for many of the same things that the Buddha himself does- strength, power, and royalty.The whole temple was brightly colored- all red and gold, and huge open doors let in a lot of natural light. Everything inside was so ornate- carvings and etchings in stone, elaborate statues and picture frames and altars. It was gorgeous- I can't believe it's across the street!The Buddha near the entrance, with offerings of tea, oranges, and flowers.My favorite part was the cat lounging around, looking like he owned the temple and everyone was leaving the offerings for him: Two of the altars out in the courtyard. The smell of burning incense wafting from the altars was really relaxing- combined with the adorable cat, beautiful decor, and the friendly people, the temple really was a welcoming place.

1 comment:

  1. so much mistery, history and beliefs still stands behind this colored art pieces... very interesting this article!