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Colin Tham
Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Singapore

Kong Meng San Phor Kark See lights up for Vesak Day

The New Paper | Colin Tham | Wednesday, May 7, 2014

A 108m-long lantern display, titled Gratitude To Planet Earth.

A colourful 108m-long lantern shaped like a sea dragon graces the entire length of the Dragon Pond in Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery (KMSPKS).

It is the focal point of the monastery's Vesak Day celebrations and it represents this year's unique theme of gratitude to the earth for its care over all living things.

Buddha's birth, enlightenment and death is commemorated by Buddhists on Vesak Day, which falls on May 13 this year.

This is the first time the monastery at Bright Hill Road has used lanterns in its Vesak Day celebrations.

CARING DRAGON

The New Paper spoke to Venerable Shi Kwang Phing, the Abbot of Leong San See Temple, about the significance behind the dragon lantern.

He said dragons are mythical creatures that watch over the earth and the sculpture seeks to emphasise the need for humans to take care of the planet.

"It is our job to reverse our (harmful) actions to protect the earth," he said.

He also told TNP that the use of lanterns was effective in helping people understand the meaning behind Vesak Day, as the notion of gratitude can be visualised.

FAMED LANTERN-MAKERS

The sculpture, which was made by famed lantern-makers from Zigong in Sichuan, Chinatook around three months to assemble.

Mr David Liow, the managing director of De Dynasty Arts, which was appointed by the monastery to put together the lantern display, said there were several challenges in setting up the dragon lantern.

"Part of the sculpture had to be built in the factory (in China) before it could be shipped over and installed," he said.

"Building a sculpture on water is not easy, as we have to measure the weight of the float to make sure it does not sink."

He also said that the ground at the bottom of the pond was not even, which further complicated things because they had to make a support for the lantern which was floating on the water.

ANIMAL-SHAPED LANTERNS

Apart from the massive dragon lantern, various other animal-shaped lanterns in the form of fishes, dogs and seahorses dot the monastery's grounds in Bishan.

The other lanterns were created to depict the other four main themes of the festival, which include gratitude to The Triple Gem (Buddha, Dharma and Sangha), gratitude to parents, gratitude to country and gratitude to all sentient beings.

The display is open to the public until May 13. Entry is free.

For additional details, visit vesak.buddhist.org.sg

This article was published on May 5 in The New Paper.

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