PM Lee opens replica of 1903 Dharma Hall at historic Lian Shan Shuang Lin monastery

ST VIDEO: MELODY ZACCHEUS
PM Lee Hsien Loong and Venerable Wai Yim (5th from left), abbot of Lian Shan Shuang Lin Monastery, at the opening of the newly reconstructed Dharma Hall, on Nov 11, 2016.
PM Lee Hsien Loong and Venerable Wai Yim (5th from left), abbot of Lian Shan Shuang Lin Monastery, at the opening of the newly reconstructed Dharma Hall, on Nov 11, 2016. ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

SINGAPORE - A series of grand halls and buildings have been added to the century-old Lian Shan Shuang Lin monastery complex in Kim Keat, under the second phase of the complex's multi-year restoration effort.

They cost $20 million and among them stands a replica of the monastery's original 1903 Dharma Hall.

They were opened by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at an official ceremony today (Nov 11).

In his speech PM Lee noted that it took great effort to restore the Dharma Hall.

For instance, its restoration team had to rely on old photographs and engage traditional craftsmen specialising in timber and stone works to recreate the hall's original facade, among other things.

The Lian Shan Shuang Lin complex, home to about 30 halls and buildings, is the oldest Buddhist monastery in Singapore and reflects three distinct Hokkien architectural styles from the counties of Fuzhou,Quanzhou and Zhangzhou. The other new additions include the Sutra Hall, Meditation Hall, Virtue Hall, and a residence for current and retired abbots.

Highlights include wood and gold leaf carvings on the Sutra Hall's timber doors which depict Chinese folklore and paragons of filial piety.

The first leg of the monastery's master plan involved restoration works for its Mahavira Hall and Hall of Celestial Kings which were gazetted collectively as a national monument in 1980.

PM Lee also described the monastery as a cultural gem of Singapore.

He said: "The monastery is the fruit of Chinese craftsmen from different counties in Fujian province coming together and putting aside their different individual traditions to create this work of art.

"It reflects our humble origins and aspirations as a nation - people originating from different roots, yet respecting and appreciating our differences, and working together towards a shared vision of the future."

He added that the Buddhist community, with its strong emphasis on values like selflessness, compassion and tolerance, makes important contributions to Singapore's racial and religious harmony.

"This is critical, because the Buddhists form the largest religious group in Singapore," said PM Lee.