Multi-religious cooperation: Bukit Batok temples keep tentage erected for Muslim congregants to pray during Hari Raya Haji

The collaboration was first brought to light in a Facebook post by Bukit Batok SMC MP Murali Pillai, who posted a photo of a tentage erected at Block 630 in Bukit Batok. PHOTO: FACEBOOK/MURALI PILLAI

SINGAPORE - A collaboration between two Taoist temples, a mosque, two tentage companies and a grassroots leader resulted in around 1,000 Muslim congregants having a sheltered area for Hari Raya Haji prayers on Wednesday (Aug 22).

The collaboration was first brought to light in a Facebook post by Bukit Batok SMC MP Murali Pillai, who posted a photo of a tentage erected at Block 630 in Bukit Batok.

"Even though it rained heavily, our Muslim friends were able to complete their prayers," wrote Mr Murali.

"A great example of multi-religious cooperation in Bukit Batok!"

The Muslim community was celebrating Hari Raya Haji, also known as Eid al-Adha or the festival of sacrifice. It marks the end of the haj pilgrimage to Mecca.

Mr Murali told The Straits Times that the congregants would have had to head to the nearby Masjid Ar-Raudhah mosque to conduct the prayers had the tentage not been erected. But due to limited space in the mosque, this would have resulted in a cramped situation, he said.

The mosque is located about 1km away from where the tentage was set up.

Mr Lim Siong, a volunteer with the Inter-Racial and Religious Confidence Circles, sparked off the series of events when he attended a Hungry Ghost Festival event by the Lian Sheng Tan temple on Saturday.

The original plan was for Lian Sheng Tan to tear down their tentage by Monday, before Shan Fu Gong comes in to set up another tentage covering a larger area on Thursday.

As he knew the Muslim congregants needed a bigger space to pray on Wednesday, he liaised with leaders at both temples to see if an arrangement could be reached to keep it up throughout the week.

Mr Lim, 70, said in Mandarin: "I realised the weather forecast was not good for the week, so I was worried about the Hari Raya Haji event on Wednesday, because I knew that about 1,000 people will be attending.

"I asked the temples and the tentage companies for help on this and they were very agreeable about it."

Mr Tan Boon Chin, 57, one of the leaders at the Shan Fu Gong temple, said the arrangement to keep the tentageup was a small issue, and that it was a win-win situation for both the temple and the mosque, as the temple would now have more time to set up the expanded tentage it needed.

The temple had contacted their tentage supplier, Hup Heng Tentage, about the arrangement, and the company immediately agreed to the request.

Mr Tan, who was speaking in his personal capacity, said he was most happy to be able to help.

"Singapore's most important asset is religious harmony, and as long as there is harmony, there is peace," he said.

Mr Adam Ng, the manager of Hup Heng Tentage, told ST that his company did not have issues with letting the Muslim congregants use its tentage.

"It was nothing much, very simple," he said in Mandarin, explaining that the congregants had been very considerate in their request, asking only for a shelter over their heads.

He added that even if the congregants had asked for additional supplies like electricity, his company would have continued to let them use the tentage for free as long as the cost incurred was not too much.

During the Hungry Ghost Festival, the company charges around $1,000 for a day's usage of the tentage. However, Mr Ng did not give much thought to the lost revenue.

"This doesn't happen very often, so as long as all sides are okay and everything is coordinated, it's fine," he said.

Mr Murali's post has since attracted more than 2,000 reactions and almost 600 shares. Many netizens who commented on the post lauded the temple for its gesture.

Facebook user Suhaimi Wagiman said: "Thank you to Shan Fu Gong Temple committee for allowing us to share the tentage. Big thank you to Mr Simon Lim Siong from Bt Batok CC who initiated the arrangement. Thank you Mr Murali who was there with Mr Simon Lim Siong to greet the congregants."

Another Facebook user, Elendrus Osman, brought up a similar initiative by a temple in Eunos.

Mr Osman posted: "Likewise, there is a temple around Eunos which allows the congregants of a nearby mosque parking facilities within its compound during Friday prayers. This speaks well on the management of our religious organisations. Well done!"

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