Popular temples change plans for Vesak Day

Devotees queuing to enter Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple in Waterloo Street on Feb 15 after it closed on Chinese New Year's Eve a few days earlier to prevent crowding. The temple will be closed on Vesak Day on May 26.
Devotees queuing to enter Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple in Waterloo Street on Feb 15 after it closed on Chinese New Year's Eve a few days earlier to prevent crowding. The temple will be closed on Vesak Day on May 26.ST FILE PHOTO

Two popular temples have made adjustments to their plans for Vesak Day on May 26, following a surge in Covid-19 cases in the community over the past week.

Visitors' bookings from May 25 at Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery in Bright Hill Road have been suspended until further notice due to "recent Covid-19 developments", a spokesman for the temple said in response to queries from The Straits Times yesterday.

In 2019, the temple attracted thousands of devotees on the eve of Vesak Day to perform the "three steps, one bow" ritual, a long procession done in reverence for the founder of Buddhism.

Separately, a spokesman for Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple in Waterloo Street said it will be closed on Vesak Day.

From May 10, odd-and-even entry restrictions will also kick in for the first time at the temple, to curb the spread of Covid-19.

This will be similar to entry restrictions at Peninsula Plaza and Lucky Plaza, with only those whose identification numbers end in even digits allowed to visit on even dates, and those with odd numbers on odd dates.

These measures to control crowds are for the safety of devotees, many of whom are senior citizens, the spokesman added.

On Chinese New Year's Eve this year, on Feb 11, the temple temporarily closed after 5,000 people turned up for the annual incense offerings and to pay their respects.

Meanwhile, devotees at Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery can celebrate the festival through online activities and live-streamed events.

Its spokesman said the monastery is working with the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth on safe management measures for on-site events and will announce updates on its platforms.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 05, 2021, with the headline 'Popular temples change plans for Vesak Day'. Subscribe