They came from other faiths to know about Buddhism

Venerable Phra Chun Kiang speaking at the Buddhist Fellowship East Centre yesterday, surrounded by paper lotus flowers that stand for purity in the Buddhist faith. Listening is South East District Mayor Maliki Osman (first row, second from right), wh
Venerable Phra Chun Kiang speaking at the Buddhist Fellowship East Centre yesterday, surrounded by paper lotus flowers that stand for purity in the Buddhist faith. Listening is South East District Mayor Maliki Osman (first row, second from right), who joined participants in folding the flowers.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Madrasah student Zakiyyah Marzouq, 19, folded a paper lotus flower for the first time yesterday, and learnt it stood for purity in Buddhism.

She was one of 50 young people from various faiths who folded 2,500 lotus flowers using coloured paper at the Buddhist Fellowship East Centre yesterday, as part of an interfaith effort to learn and understand more of the Buddhist faith ahead of Vesak Day on Wednesday.

"I signed up for this because I wanted the exposure to different religions in Singapore, and to know more about Buddhism," said Miss Zakiyyah, a pre-university student from the Madrasah Al Ma'arif Al Islamiah.

"I used to know of it as just one of the religions in Singapore, but not how it was practised or what it stands for," she added.

The racial harmony youth ambassadors, from the South East Community Development Council (CDC), come from various neighbourhood and Special Assistance Plan (SAP) schools, and a madrasah from the South East district.

These lotus flowers, which contain personalised messages written by the young people, will be distributed to the public on Vesak Day. The number of flowers folded - 2,500 - is a tribute to the number of years Buddhism has been estimated to have been around for.

About 30 senior citizens from Tembusu Senior Activity Centre and Shan You Counselling Centre joined them in their flower-folding activities.

South East District Mayor Maliki Osman joined the participants in the folding of the lotus flowers, and commended the youth on making the effort to understand and appreciate others' beliefs and practices.

"This event reflects the realism of Singapore today - the multicultural, multi-religious nature of society. What I hope is for young people to have ownership of this whole process of reaching out," said Dr Maliki.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 07, 2017, with the headline 'They came from other faiths to know about Buddhism'. Print Edition | Subscribe