Youth volunteers mark Vesak Day with kind gestures

Volunteers spent the morning at Masjid Khalid in Joo Chiat, helping to cook and pack porridge for members of the public. This is a service the mosque carries out as part of its Ramadan tradition.
Volunteers spent the morning at Masjid Khalid in Joo Chiat, helping to cook and pack porridge for members of the public. This is a service the mosque carries out as part of its Ramadan tradition.ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID
Volunteers spent the morning at Masjid Khalid in Joo Chiat, helping to cook and pack porridge for members of the public. This is a service the mosque carries out as part of its Ramadan tradition.
Dr Mohamad Maliki Osman, Mayor of South East District, and his family at Masjid Khalid, helping out with porridge distribution. ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID
Volunteers spent the morning at Masjid Khalid in Joo Chiat, helping to cook and pack porridge for members of the public. This is a service the mosque carries out as part of its Ramadan tradition.
Devotees mark Vesak Day in different ways around the island. At Thekchen Choling, Singapore's only 24-hour Tibetan Buddhist temple (above), a devotee spins the Giant Mani Wheel for purification while other devotees practise the offering of robes on a deity. At Shinnyo-en Temple, a devotee offers sweet tea to Buddha. Visitors get to learn more about the religion through a tour and a question-and-answer session. ST PHOTOS: KUA CHEE SIONG, TIMOTHY DAVID
Dr Mohamad Maliki Osman, Mayor of South East District, and his family at Masjid Khalid, helping out with porridge distribution.
Devotees mark Vesak Day in different ways around the island. At Thekchen Choling, Singapore's only 24-hour Tibetan Buddhist temple, a devotee spins the Giant Mani Wheel for purification while other devotees practise the offering of robes on a deity (above). At Shinnyo-en Temple, a devotee offers sweet tea to Buddha. Visitors get to learn more about the religion through a tour and a question-and-answer session. ST PHOTOS: KUA CHEE SIONG, TIMOTHY DAVID
Devotees mark Vesak Day in different ways around the island. From left: At Thekchen Choling, Singapore's only 24-hour Tibetan Buddhist temple, a devotee spins the Giant Mani Wheel for purification while other devotees practise the offering of robes o
Devotees mark Vesak Day in different ways around the island. At Thekchen Choling, Singapore's only 24-hour Tibetan Buddhist temple, a devotee spins the Giant Mani Wheel for purification while other devotees practise the offering of robes on a deity. At Shinnyo-en Temple (above), a devotee offers sweet tea to Buddha. Visitors get to learn more about the religion through a tour and a question-and-answer session. ST PHOTOS: KUA CHEE SIONG, TIMOTHY DAVID

They use social media to document their good deeds and spread message of caring

While Vesak Day is a Buddhist celebration, some young people of different faiths and races see it as a chance to do good and spread the message using Instagram.

A group of volunteers have used the social media to document more than 120 good deeds they have done over the past two weeks, such as teaching the elderly how to use their smartphones, giving people directions, collecting litter and picking abandoned bikes off the streets.

The 70 volunteers included Racial Harmony Youth Ambassadors from South East Community Development Council (CDC) and youngsters from Buddhist organisation Shinnyo-en Singapore.

Permanent resident Giron Althea Isis Canonizado, 17, who is a Christian, said the social media campaign was an effort to reach out to more people: "We also wanted to do something in line with the core values of Buddhism, like being mindful of others and our environment."

Buddhists mark the birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha on Vesak Day.

The volunteers visited Shinnyo-en Temple in Eunos yesterday to learn more about the religion through a tour and a question-and-answer session. They also spent the morning at Masjid Khalid in Joo Chiat, helping cook and pack porridge for members of the public, a service the mosque carries out as part of its Ramadan tradition.

The activities are part of South East CDC's Celebrating Our Festivals series, an avenue for Singaporeans from different faiths and races to learn about the country's major festivals.

One of the volunteers, National University of Singapore civil engineering student Mirabel Loh, said she understood more about Shinnyo-en Singapore and its teachings after the visit. It was also her first time packing porridge at a mosque.

"We all got a chance at stirring and packing... It was heartwarming to come together and we're all trying to do something for our community," said Ms Loh, 22.

Devotees marked Vesak Day in different ways around the island.

Thekchen Choling, Singapore's only 24-hour Tibetan Buddhist temple, unveiled a four-storey-high handcrafted depiction of Buddha.

The temple in Jalan Besar also held a fair with nearly 20 food and lifestyle stalls, and distributed gift packs comprising daily necessities to more than 1,000 households around the temple. It also gave 47 bursaries worth more than $13,000 to students from low-income families.

Sales engineer Loh Ming Yang, 30, said: "Besides it being a religious occasion, it's very heartwarming to see friends and family coming down for the festival."

Mr Loh, who took a deeper interest in Buddhism 10 years ago, added: "Vesak Day is a day of inspiration and a constant reminder of Buddha's teachings.

"The festival reminds me of all the teachings which inspire me to become a better person, to continue to practise (Buddhism) and continue to bring benefits to my family and friends around me."

At Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery in Bright Hill Road, prayers were held in the morning, while devotees and visitors watched stage performances and took part in activities such as flower mandala-making, sutra writing and colouring.

The celebrations also included a Vesak Fair selling thrift items and vegetarian snacks, a photo exhibition of the monastery's history and a sale of donated pre-loved items.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 30, 2018, with the headline 'Youth volunteers mark Vesak Day with kind gestures'. Print Edition | Subscribe