Keeping the faith in a time of coronavirus

PHOTOS: HEART OF GOD CHURCH, MARCELLIN LOPEZ, KHALID BABA, TIMOTHY DAVID

In a time of coronavirus, ways of worship in Singapore have transformed. Livestreaming, lightly modifying ancient rituals and even suspending services altogether - believers from all faiths are now navigating new terrain while safekeeping the essence of their beliefs.


CHRISTIANS: RETURN OF THE HOUSE CHURCH


Heart of God Church online services include elements such as live chat and interactive games. PHOTO: HEART OF GOD CHURCH

The lights dim and worship begins in a Tampines Housing Board flat on a Saturday night.

A dozen young adults gather at a smart TV, its size a fraction of their megachurch jumbotron screen, raising hands to songs livestreamed from Faith Community Baptist Church in Marine Parade.

Cameras show Senior Pastor Daniel Khong expounding on "confident faith" in the empty auditorium in real time.

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Taoists & Buddhists: Sharing teachings over social media, messages


Ms Yeap Li Man, a Taoist, praying at an altar at the main entrance of the Temple of the Heavenly Jade Emperor in Telok Ayer. Visitors are temporarily not allowed inside, in response to Dorscon Orange. ST PHOTO: MARCELLIN LOPEZ

Over the past month, Taoist Yeap Li Man, a human resource manager, has been praying outside the Temple of the Heavenly Jade Emperor.

At its entrance in Telok Ayer Street, a notice dated Feb 12 states that visitors are temporarily not allowed inside the temple in response to the Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (Dorscon) getting raised to Orange.

It reads: "We encourage our devotees to continue with their accords and prayers at the main entrance altar outside of the temple."

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Muslims: Online sermons replace mosque activities

Ms Siti Aishah Mohd Kassim, her mother Rahmah Haji Karim and her nephew Muhammad Timidzi Zulkeffle watch lectures by local Muslim religious leaders online as mosques are closed until Thursday.
Ms Siti Aishah Mohd Kassim, her mother Rahmah Haji Karim and her nephew Muhammad Timidzi Zulkeffle watch lectures by local Muslim religious leaders online as mosques are closed until Thursday. ST PHOTO: KHALID BABA

Every Friday between 1 and 2pm, Mr Ahmad Rashideen is usually at Masjid Sultan in Kampong Glam for solat jumaat, or Friday prayers.

But on March 13, the 30-year-old financial adviser found himself having a meal at Zam Zam, the restaurant located across the 196-year-old mosque's entrance, instead.

In a bid to stop the spread of the coronavirus, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) had closed all 70 mosques in Singapore for cleaning.

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Hindus & Sikhs: Events called off, prayers go online

Prasadham, food and flowers that have been blessed, are given to devotees on platters, instead of by hand, to avoid unnecessary contact at Sri Darma Muneeswaran Temple.
Prasadham, food and flowers that have been blessed, are given to devotees on platters, instead of by hand, to avoid unnecessary contact at Sri Darma Muneeswaran Temple. ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

Madam Jayamani Viswalingam, 64, has been going to the Sri Siva Durga Temple in Potong Pasir for over 30 years, so a global pandemic is not going to stop her weekly Tuesday prayers.

The usual routine for all Hindu devotees at temples involves leaving their footwear outside the grounds and washing both hands and feet. But for some, like Madam Viswalingam, there are a few more steps, like taking her temperature at home before going to the temple to prepare a tray of lime lamps - limes that have been scooped out and filled with a wick and ghee - to offer to the goddess Durga.

"There are fewer people coming, especially children, but the situation seems very normal otherwise. Nobody is wearing masks," notes the retired teacher.

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