Tibetan temple marks Vesak Day with animal blessings, adoption drive

Below: Temple spiritual director Singha Rinpoche (centre); his guru, Jhado Rinpoche (left); other sanghas and guests viewing the Giant Wish-Fulfilling Thangka yesterday. Left: Ms Catherine Chan, 37, holding up her seven-year-old guinea pig Tiramisu t
Ms Catherine Chan, 37, holding up her seven-year-old guinea pig Tiramisu to be blessed at Thekchen Choling yesterday.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
Below: Temple spiritual director Singha Rinpoche (centre); his guru, Jhado Rinpoche (left); other sanghas and guests viewing the Giant Wish-Fulfilling Thangka yesterday. Left: Ms Catherine Chan, 37, holding up her seven-year-old guinea pig Tiramisu t
Temple spiritual director Singha Rinpoche (centre); his guru, Jhado Rinpoche (left); other sanghas and guests viewing the Giant Wish-Fulfilling Thangka yesterday.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Singapore's only 24-hour Tibetan Buddhist temple yesterday marked Vesak Day by inviting pet owners to get their animals blessed and animal welfare charities to stage an adoption drive for strays.

Thekchen Choling described the event as a modern-day interpretation of the traditional Buddhist animal liberation practice.

For the first time, the temple in Beatty Lane in Jalan Besar collaborated with four animal welfare groups - Animal Human Alliance, Cat Welfare Society, Purely Adoptions and Forget Me Not - to hold the cat and dog adoption drive.

Traditionally, Buddhists release animals on Vesak Day to gain merit, but the temple's spiritual director Singha Rinpoche said the practice could be viewed in other ways in today's context.

He said: "Buying and releasing animals is actually not good for the environment, so it's much better if we can feed and rehome strays.

"Rather than blind faith, we want to promote social and spiritual cohesion along with the teaching that all beings, both humans and animals, are equal."

Among the devotees who took along their pets for blessings was packaging company director Collin Hu, 42.

"My family of four has been coming here to soak in the festivities for the past 10 years, but the main purpose we are here today is to get blessings for our three-month-old toy poodle, the newest member of our family," he said.

Buddhists traditionally release animals on Vesak Day but, for the first time, Thekchen Choling, a Tibetan Buddhist temple in Beatty Lane in Jalan Besar, decided to mark it by holding an adoption drive for strays, in collaboration with four animal wel
A kind gesture on Vesak Day: Buddhists traditionally release animals on Vesak Day but, for the first time, Thekchen Choling, a Tibetan Buddhist temple in Beatty Lane in Jalan Besar, decided to mark it by holding an adoption drive for strays, in collaboration with four animal welfare groups. These mongrels, from animal shelter Forget Me Not, were blessed with holy water by Geshe Nyima, the temple's resident sangha. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Another highlight of the morning was the unveiling of a 13m by 9m thangka, a handcrafted silk applique image of Shakyamuni Buddha, after prayers and offerings.

More than 800 devotees attended this year's event, which featured a carnival with more than 20 food and game stalls.

Local illustrator Patrick Yee, who is behind children's book series Rosie Rabbit, launched his new book, titled Buddha, at the event.

The temple also handed out 45 bursaries worth more than $12,000 to primary, secondary and tertiary students from low-income families from different ethnic groups.

Housewife Basanthi Selvam, 56, who has participated in the celebrations for many years with her family of nine, said: "Every year, I come here to pay respects and to seek blessings for my whole family."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 20, 2019, with the headline 'Tibetan temple marks Vesak Day with animal blessings, adoption drive'. Print Edition | Subscribe