SINGAPORE - The Buddhist Fellowship (BF) of Singapore marked its 30th anniversary on Sunday (Dec 30) with a dinner that included a time of sharing, a silent auction as well as song and dance performances.
But what really got the more than 1,000 people at the event at Safra Toa Payoh excited was when the guest of honour, President Halimah Yacob, tried her hand at Chinese calligraphy.
She was invited on stage during the event and penned the words "one heart" in Mandarin, to the sound of applause and cheers.
The words she had penned were in line with what the fellowship's president Lim Phang Hong said was a key teaching of Buddhism - harmony and togetherness.
In his speech where he also thanked volunteers, Mr Lim said: "A bedrock of BF's activities emphasises on harmony across religion and race, and we listen to speakers across Buddhist traditions and from other religions."
He added that the fellowship actively participates in events celebrating racial and religious equality and harmony.
He also touched on Buddha's teachings of inclusiveness, saying that the fellowship has been active in the community to make it a "kinder and more inclusive one".
He added that the fellowship has volunteered locally and overseas to provide help where it can.
This includes regular visits to the Geylang East Home for the Aged and Ren Ci Nursing Home.
Also at the event was Buddhist teacher Ajahn Brahm, who spoke on the topic "Strengthening Fellowship, Benefitting Community", which was the theme for the dinner.
Mr Lim said the fellowship, which was founded in 1988 and has a few thousand members, needs to adapt with the times.
It has been doing so by using social media to publicise its talks and adopting e-payment systems to handle funds.
He said: "It is our hope that BF will continue to be a place where fellowship can strengthen and grow... This fellowship lays the foundation for us to then be able to help others."