On the eve of Vesak Day yesterday, temples and monasteries all over Singapore held various rituals and commemorative events to celebrate the occasion, which marks the birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha.
At the Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery in Bright Hill Road, as well as another Vesak Day event at Bukit Gombak Stadium, thousands of devotees turned up in the evening to perform the "three steps, one bow" rite, a long procession done in repentance and in reverence for the founder of Buddhism.
Adherents performing the ritual took three steps and then prostrated, repeating the process around the perimeter of the venue. Each procession took two to three hours.
Worshippers at Bukit Gombak Stadium also "bathed the Buddha" in remembrance of his birth. According to Buddhist lore, Prince Siddhartha was rained on by nine dragons from heaven, signifying that someone special had been born.
At the BW Monastery in Woodlands, devotees turned up in the morning to view and pay homage to its keepsakes - relics of Buddha's collarbone that date back 2,300 years.
They are exhibited only once a year, during the monastery's annual Vesak Day celebrations.
The monastery also organised a charity bazaar that will run till tomorrow, featuring food stalls selling various snacks and vegetarian food.
The Prime Minister sends his greetings to all Buddhists on the occasion of Vesak Day.
The Sunday Times also sends Vesak Day greetings to all its Buddhist readers.
Buddhists believe that the merit collected on Vesak Day by performing good deeds will multiply many times.
Other rites and rituals carried out on Vesak Day include the chanting of mantras and having vegetarian meals. While releasing animals into the wild used to be a common practice, the Singapore Buddhist Federation and other Buddhist groups now educate followers against doing so, as this may jeopardise the environment.