Free art exhibition showcases Singapore's religious harmony

The Many Beliefs, One Future exhibition at Raffles City Shopping Centre aims to show the connections shared by Singapore's various faiths. ST PHOTO: KHALID BABA

SINGAPORE - Art teacher Richard Walker was a prisoner of war in Changi during the Japanese occupation when he painted Epiphany - an allegorical artwork depicting a nativity scene with the Wise Men as Chinese scholars and the Virgin Mary as an Asian woman.

The 1942 painting was given a local flavour and used during holy communion services at the jail to offer hope to prisoners in their darkest hours.

It is among artworks on display at the Many Beliefs, One Future exhibition, which opened on Wednesday (June 19) at Raffles City Shopping Centre.

The exhibition aims to show the connections shared by Singapore's various faiths and was launched ahead of the International Conference on Cohesive Societies which opened on Wednesday evening.

The three-day conference brings together 700 delegates from almost 40 countries and aims to strengthen inter-religious and inter-cultural understanding.

Commissioned by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, the exhibition showcases artefacts and artworks from 10 faiths that call Singapore their home.

They represent Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, Taoism, Judaism, as well as lesser-known faiths Zoroastrianism, Jainism and Bahai'i.

The exhibits were contributed by individuals as well as various faith organisations in Singapore, including the Inter-Religious Organisation and Sikh Advisory Board.

They include a 45-year-old handwritten Baha'i prayer book, a 600-year-old Quran from Turkey and a Torah scroll that is at least a century old.

Launching the exhibition, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Culture, Community and Youth Baey Yam Keng said: "In Singapore, we are really unique in that we have the practice of different faiths among people and yet we enjoy a lot of common space that we enjoy together.

"This exhibition is a physical manifestation of what exists in Singapore. Hopefully people can see it and appreciate the harmony, the common spaces that we have enjoyed these years and make a commitment to say that they will play their parts to bring this forward for generations to come."

The free exhibition, on show at level 3 of the mall, runs until Sunday.

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