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.