Our 1st CNY Celebration at BWM
On the 3rd day of the Chinese New Year, our class managed to have a lunch gathering at BW Monastery. Although most classmates were busy, quite a number of us still managed to turn up for the event. Other than that, we also participated in the Eighty-eight Buddhas Repentance prayer in the morning.
Some classmates also invited their family members and friends for the gathering. First, we were “warmed up” by eating the delicious “Eight Treasures” porridge prepared by the kitchen volunteers. To break the ice, we sang a song of “Gong Xi Fa Cai” and greeted each other happily with handshake.
A simple potluck of vegetarian Yu Sheng, some steamed buns and dessert are prepared for the attendees. Before starting the Lo Hei, a Mandala offering was made and a short explanation was given by our class facilitator to the family members to ensure that they understood what we were going to do. We also listened to Teacher’s discourse for the New Year. We learnt that it was important to make a reflection or “stock-take” of what happened in 2017 as well as our key learning points, and continue to do more virtuous deeds to accumulate merits for a blessed learning journey ahead.
We sung an Insightful Praise entitled “又见你的容颜” to recollect the kindness of our Teachers. This beautiful Insightful Praise touched many of us inclusive our new friends.
After lunch, we also visited the various stations which were set-up in the main shrine hall to allow us to venerate or make different forms of offerings or auspicious requests to the Triple Gem. There were some unusual ones not commonly seen in Singapore. One of them was the spinning of a dharma wheel with different selection of mantras/sutras to select from. There was also a Buddha’s statue where visitors could paste gold flakes onto it to honor Buddha’s teachings which is probably more common in Thailand.
There was a long queue at a blessing station conducted by compassionate Venerable Jing Yuan. He sprinkled blessed water on everyone head and recited the Mani mantra or Manjushri mantra to bless us with Bodhisattva’s compassion and wisdom.
On the outside of the main shrine hall, a set-up was created to allow visitors to collectively make offerings to the Triple Gem by stacking up stones to create a stupa. This reminded me of similar structures more commonly seen in India and Nepal.
On the fourth level, many stations with auspicious Chinese New Year taglines were also set-up for photography lovers. Visitors could also participate in offering tea to their parents in one of the tea corner.
At the beautifully decorated stations, we took group photos with beaming smiles from everyone. One senior told us that the volunteers worked tirelessly before the Chinese New Year to usher us with such serene and high - energy decorations.
Although visiting the monastery during the Chinese New Year period had been a typical family activity, it was frequently done on a rush with light and joss-sticks offerings. However, this year was unique as I was able to make offerings through different approaches and traditions all under one roof.
It was encouraged to know that online puja offerings were also made available officially for those who were not able to attend in person.
It was a fruitful experience infused with fun, education, fellowship and abundance blessings.
The earnest and kind efforts of Sangha community and all volunteers have benefitted the attendees. Their hard and heart work are much appreciated. Rejoice!
By Leow P Shan (15G023E)