Eve of Vesak Day in Brigh Hill temple – Singapore

For Buddhists Vesak Day marks the birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha. This is my very first time at Bright hill temple ; it is a huge compound in the center of Singapore.

Bright Hill temple also known as Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery, is famous for the “3 Steps 1 Bow ceremony” on the eve of Vesak Day.

Above are monks who are opening the procession. The ceremony starts at 5pm and takes 2 and half hours to complete ending with the monks back in the main hall blessing the devotees with water.

Monks are followed by lay people who will queue all evening and a big part of the night. One people I know said he will go at 3am.

Below people queuing at the start of the procession

 

The main halls are also the occasion to pray and give offerings; mostly candles.

During the day itself, ritual is generally the bathing of the Buddha.

Most shots done with Leica M262 and Summicron 28mm, close ups with Elmarit 90mmF2.8.

Some film shots (with black border) done with Leica M6 on Fuji Xtra 800ISO with same lenses.

How to get there: Bright Hill is quite central  (like in the middle of the island) but may take some time to reach. You can get a bus there (check gothere.sg) which will take close to one hour from CDB or take a cab (more of less 15 SGD).

Devotees and temple staff are quite photo friendly, so as long as you are decently dressed and don’t go in the middle of ceremony you feel welcome to shoot. There is actually a small crowd of photographers.

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Eve of Vesak Day in Brigh Hill temple – Singapore

Little monks in the Thien Mu Pagoda – Hué – Vietnam

Little monks in the Thien Mu Pagoda  - Hué - Vietnam

 

Little monks in the Thien Mu Pagoda – Hué – Vietnam

 
I realize it’s been a long break; my last post dates back from the end of September! Like many other people I have been busy; nearly two seeks in Vietnam, kid going back to school, seeing friends, walking around with a camera and a bit of work, in a word: life.

So Vietnam was our last destination, we spent 10 days in the the middle and south part between Hué and Ho Chi Minh city aka Saigon. Weather at this time of the year is not great and actually it is the start of the bad season. We had a lot of rain in Hué, but we were quite lucky in other places.

Camera wise I slightly modified my usual kit and brought along the Angenieux 70-210 F3.5 AI lens instead of the Nikkor 80-210 F2.8 AF. The reason is that I wanted a lighter kit that fits in a back-pack I borrowed from a friend. Yes I was again wondering about a new bag bt could not make up my mind so I decided to try a back-pack instead of taking along the Crumpler 8Mio back (which is no longer produced it seems). I could fit in the bag:
– the Hasselblad 500M with an extra back
– the D700
– the 50mmF1.8D
– the 17-35mmF2.8AF
– the Angenieux zoom

There is enough room left for the lonely planet,the light-meter, a couple of films. The rest of the accessories goes in the checked luggage, including spare film.

As we traveled “free and easy” (meaning we did not have our own car and driver all the time) I enjoyed the back-pack very much as it enabled me to carry all my stuff around all the time. On the down side, even if this one (Lowepro 200 something) has a kind of “Sling” feature, it is not as practical as a shoulder bag. So I think I will have more crisis of looking for the perfect bag in the future again.

Oh the picture, this is one of the first of the film shots, these kids are little monks in the Thien Mu Pagoda in Hué. This pagoda is famous for its 7 levels tower, but also for the monk who drove from there to Saigon to set himself in fire in 1963 in protest against the government.

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Mihintale – Sri Lanka

Mihintale is a mountain peak near Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka. It is believed by Sri Lankans to be the site of where Buddhism started in Sri Lanka.
It is now a pilgrimage site, and the site of several religious monuments and abandoned structures.

The old monk keeping the image room of the dagoba on top of Mihintale hill

On top of the hill is a large Dagoba that can be seen from afar. A the back is the image room with its statue of reclining Buddha. This old monk invited us to have a look, leave our appreciation on the visitors look and offering. One opportunity to take the Hassie out of the bag.

The Daboba and prayer flags

The Rock opposite

Opposite le Dagoba is another rock which top one can climb, the surrounding landscape is breath taking, with a lot of water expanses that were man made if I remember well. You can also see old brick Dabogas under the vegetation.

The Buddha statue

A large statue of the Buddha can also be found on one side of the hill.

The Daboga at half height

This smaller Daboga can be found at half the height or the hill. At its back is a monastery.

Japanese Pilgrim

On our way down we met a group of Japanese Pilgrims chanting their way up the peak to spend the night at the monastery (so were we told). Apparently they come once a year for this.

Mihintale – Sri Lanka