Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Three Steps One Bow Ritual on Vesak Day - WW


Vesak Day commemorates Buddha’s enlightenment. In Buddhist temples throughout Singapore, monks chant sutras and devotees release birds as a sign of respect for all creatures.


Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Temple on Bright Hill Road holds an annual Three-Step-One-Bow (三步一拜) ritual on its temple grounds to usher in Vesak Day. This is a practise that buddhists show respect to Buddha, the Dharma and the sangha. It takes about 2 hours to complete the 1.5km route round the temple. Waiting for one's turn to commence the ritual would be 2 - 5 hours due to the thousands of devotees.

I saw many elderly people and young kids participating in the ritual. Some of the elderly are very strong, they completed the whole course without once stopping to rest! There were also some Indians and Caucasians too. Many adults have been doing it annually for years. For those who are not physically fit, they don't have to bow down.


This year, Venerable Sik Kwang Sheng, the abbot of Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery dedicated the merits of the procession to the victims of the Sichuan earthquake in China and Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar.

Buddhists also took part in the ceremonial bathing of the statue of baby Prince Siddharatha. A small standing statue of the prince is placed in a basin of perfumed water strewn with flowers. The Buddhists scoop the perfumed water with a ladle and pour it over the statue. This act of bathing symbolises the purification of one’s unwholesome actions.

I saw several young people prostrating themselves during the procession. When a Buddhist prostrates before an image, he acknowledges the fact that the Buddha has attained the perfect and supreme Enlightenment. Such an act helps the Buddhist to overcome egoistic feelings and he becomes more ready to listen to the Teaching of the Buddha.

While resting in the canteen, I saw a young mother nursing her hurting knees. She queued with her husband and young daughter at 9pm to perform the Three-Step-One-Bow ritual. It was her first time. I noted the time, it was 2.20 am.

On the next day, her sore knees would be very painful when she walks or squats down....

On Monday, devotees congregated at temples, chanted sutras and offered incense to Buddha. They also bathed the Buddha sculptures with holy water that has been blessed by monks.








70 comments:

  1. ecl,
    I've never seen such event before. The knees were so sore. Aiyoyo, I don't know if I can tahan with this 3 steps 1 bow ritual...

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  2. Kok,
    I think I also cannot do this. It's quite tough. Walk 3 step and then kneel.... not only the knees got sore, the elbows too.

    My hubby does it every year except for this year because I need him to conserve his energy to take care of his sickly parents. If he gets knocked out for a few days, I can die!

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  3. maybe people should wear knee pads when they do this.

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  4. What a wonderful way to bring purity and spirit back into your soul. Thank you for sharing this.

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  5. wahh!! i definitely cannot stand it lor. but i think it's a vital day to reminds all humans to remain humble and know what's good and bad.. i think there's a catholic church in sarawak that has the same three steps one bow ritual as well.. can't remember.

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  6. The devotees have a strong devotion and faith. Such acts of steps one bow ritual would probably require a lot of faith, discipline and tolerance.

    Wishing you, your family and your in-laws good health.

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  7. I have done this ritual, perhaps 10 years ago. Once! Tough!!

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  8. Thanks for teaching me about this. I just attended a ceremony to honor Buddha's birth. This devotion is inspiring.

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  9. I did that before when I was real young... couldn't walk really well for a couple of days.

    I recall that it was for some exams of some kind. Hmm...

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  10. I had not heard of this before. Thanks for sharing!

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  11. Looks kind of strange to a Norwegian, but it certainly was an interesting read and well documented with the pics. Great to learn something new you know - thanks for sharing!

    RennyBA's Terella

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  12. Oh dear those poor bruised knees! Now that is devotion :) Happy WW

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  13. Very whale whale, but I am mixed up again, with Wesak and Thaipusam!!

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  14. How cool is that? I'm so impressed with their devotion...

    Happy WW *huggies*

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  15. Interesting pics, I don't know much about that religion. Is it bad to say that it makes me happy that my gods don't want me to bow to them, but to be worthy of walking beside them. :)

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  16. Wow, so this is how they do it to honour Buddha? Very devoted. May they be blessed with good life.

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  17. This is a very interesting and meaningful tradition. Thank you for sharing it.

    You may find my WW here.

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  18. Wow, what an amazing not-so-wordless Wednesday! Great shots!

    Happy WW from CrAzY Working Mom

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  19. Very interesting information. Ouch! for that sore knees.

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  20. Dear EastCoastLife, Totally Happy Wesak Day to All. Another slide show, and your avatar is in it, at A Total Blog. Thanks...

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  21. wow it was new to me too, that is dedication

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  22. The people every year joining the 三步一拜 is like increasing. I can only salute to them! Especially the elderly ones.
    If I ever try that....I think, confirm I kena carry out :P

    Not to mention the parking there @_@
    But confirm won't get summon on that day.

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  23. Very interesting! I'm glad I stumbled across your blog.

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  24. Why are some lying down instead of simply bowing?

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  25. jimboypogi,
    Those lying down are humbling themselves to overcome egoistic feelings and become more ready to listen to the Teaching of the Buddha.

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  26. the Dong,
    Nobody would mind the pain .... to wear knee pads or any form of padding is insincere and disrespectful, it is an insult even to suggest to the devotee. :)

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  27. Wow...now thats dedication. Very cool pics. Happy WW and thanks for stopping by:)

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  28. Very interesting! So you walk by the knee? Or ordinary walk then bow? Either way, I think can do this...but it has to be in my best days! LOL

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  29. Happy Vesak Day to you!

    This post is touching and humbling. I hope their prayers are answered. I never knew so much about this festival before.

    (I tried to post a comment yesterday, but the comment page didn't openup wonder why?)

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  30. Very interesting. I love reading about this kind of things, I never stop learning.

    Here is my post; have a great WW!

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  31. talk about 'raw' But it must be nice to see so many devoted people.

    Shoshana

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  32. Not so wordless! :-) I like Wesak day but I don't approve of caging birds just so they can be let go.

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  33. I always thought boudists wouldn't do such things like the catholics with their processions. Very interesting to read !
    BTW you got my WW picture wrong, I am not at all for a boycott of the Olympic games ! I don't mingle sports and politics I even think it is quite coward to use the poor sportmen as hostages ! They trained and trained for years for that ! what a disappointment it would be for them !
    Everybody new China's position when it was choosen for the olympic games !

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  34. this is interesting, thanks for sharing.

    i doubt i'll do this, i just went for simple praying and bathing the little buddha!

    happy WW!!

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  35. The hearts of people all over the world go out to those affected by the disasters in China and Myanmar. They have been in my prayers, too, and I hope those suffering find relief soon.

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  36. Beautiful Pictures. Brings back dream memories. Just before the birthof my daughter almost 30 years ago, I had afternoon dreams of people walking/crawling with sandals on their hands through the sky around my cabin roof which stood out on a ridge top about 4000 feet elevation (high for that part of the country). Thanks for sharing these.
    I'm a bit puzzled though being under them impression Wordless Wednesday was well "wordless" photographs only without comments or captions? I'm new to this and saw your site lastweek to and both times confusedly keep looking for your wordless picture???

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  37. I've seen that on TV before but did not know Singapore hold such rituals too.

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  38. Goodness! I don't think I can do that, esp. after the picture of the sore knees.

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  39. Hi ECL!! Am here to vote vote vote! Also, stop by my place later for some Japanese food he he... :)

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  40. We only see this on TV here. but your explanation make me understand it more.
    Thanks,Eastcoast.
    You always have very informative entry with great photos.
    Happy WW.

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  41. Wow 2-5 hours waiting time...oh boy! They must have a lot of patience and devotion.
    I definitely cannot do this,I'm so weak ...don't even like going to the gym. The only work-out I get is walking/window shopping at orchard..hheheh.
    This requires great resistance I suppose.

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  42. mariposa,
    The devotees walk as normal... every 3 steps, they kneel and bow with their foreheads touching the ground and palms facing up.

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  43. indrani,
    Oh... I don't know what's the problem. Maybe Blogger is down? I didn't switch off 'comment'.

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  44. That's very informative. Looks painful though.

    If you got time please visit my entries:

    http://blessedchic.com
    http://emmyrose.com

    Thanks! Happy WW!

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  45. THat is so cool, I am always intrested to learn about diffrent relgions and buddist always amaze me ,but to see pictures to is great!

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  46. Wow, and I thought we Catholics had it bad on the knees. They have us beat!

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  47. How moving!! Neat photo capture of the event.

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  48. I went for the prayer a few years back.

    2 and half hours may sound very long, but when you actually do it yourself. You dont feel that it is that long!

    In fact, I felt very refresh and happy after the prayer... :)

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  49. Wow! No pain no gain right?
    Afterall, it is the heart that matters. And the determination.

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  50. You know, please don't laugh at me. Initially I thought Vesak Day is for the Hindu ... then Cynthia corrected me.

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  51. hi ecl!i don't think i can stand it too, hehe.

    i miss you and i miss the memes too, but i've been busy managing 3 blogs hehe, but i hope i can get back soon ;)

    happy ww!

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  52. What a wonderful history lesson. I felt for the young mother with the banged up knees. Yikes. Have a great WW. :)

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  53. Wow! I've never heard of this ritual before. Very interesting!

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  54. We are the Champions - my friends
    And we'll keep on fighting - till the end -
    We are the Champions -
    We are the Champions
    No time for losers
    'Cause we are the Champions - of Europe -

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  55. Thanks for sharing this... I've not seen this myself even I'm living in this part of the world. Least expected to see this in SG! Amazing!

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  56. Is it too nosy to ask if you did this, eastcoast? It must be very difficult...

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  57. Very interesting post. I don't think I will last.
    Thanks for the comment!

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  58. I wonder if I have that much devotion. I'm very impressed with their determination and faith. :)

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  59. oh my they should wear knee pads... Hope to see you around at my corner...

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  60. How fascinating it is for me to see something like this, it's so far away from Sweden. Hard to imagine, but never the less, very interesting. And educating.

    But her knees - OUCH x millions!

    I couldn't do it for sure and I'm only (lol) 49!!!! I have both a bad back and bad knees, so it would be impossible.

    Lifecruiser

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  61. Never see this before.... tough steps to spiritual nurture....

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