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.

Eve of Vesak Day in Brigh Hill temple – Singapore

Tiong Bahru Qi Tian Gong Temple

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The week end of the 17 Sep 2016 was the festival of Qi Tian Gong temple in Tiong Bahru . The temple is dedicated to the monkey god.

Outside the temple a scene for a Chinese Opera was set, they are not he photogs friendly Lao Sai Tao Yuan  but they were nice enough to let me in and have a few shots back stage.

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Nothing much happened for a while them I heard the procession come from afar (while sat in front a beer at Tiong Bahru Club)

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One of the interesting parts of the procession was the Indian band; Hindus also worship the Monkey God and this temple is said to have followers from many backgrounds.

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The lion was also part of the celebrations.

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That was also the opportunity to meet some friends and make some new ones . Thanks so Sylvie for the information on the event.

All shots with Leica M262, Summilux 50mmF1.4 or Summaron 35mmF2.8.

Tiong Bahru Qi Tian Gong Temple

NORTH THAILAND TRIP – PART 5– Phitsanulok

Phitsanulok is a big district 50 km east of Sukhothai; in comparison it is quite a large and busy city. It is famous for its large and ancient temple: Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat.

If I may quote wikipedia; it is also known as “Wat Yai” and was founded in 1357.

The temple is very famous because of its golden Buddha image called Phra Phuttha Chinnarat, which is considered by some Thais to be the most beautiful Buddha image in the country. (In the background above)

If you are in Sukhothai visiting Phitsanulok is a nice afternoon trip, one hour drive each way. The temple is quite large  (I think Mahathat means large) and other smaller buildings around are worth a look.

One of them hosts a kind of coffin with the feet of the dead (is it lord Buddha?) going through its side. Very weird.

There is a market area at the back which makes a complement to the cultural visit.

NORTH THAILAND TRIP – PART 5– Phitsanulok

NORTH THAILAND TRIP – PART 3 – WAT CHAIWATTHANARAM -AYUTTHAYA

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Ayutthaya is a city with many temples. Our second stop was at thee Wat Chaiwatthanaram. This temple is visible from a big distance for his big cheddi or stupa.

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After the very active Wat Phanan Choeng , Wat Chaiwatthanaram, is quiet one, mostly in ruins which apparently suffered from the flooding of 2011. You can find on the web beautiful, if not sad, pictures of the compound surrounded by waters.

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The site is very interesting, mostly by its big cheddi and the hall with broken statues of the sitting Buddha. The compound is very nice to walk and close to the river.

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NORTH THAILAND TRIP – PART 3 – WAT CHAIWATTHANARAM -AYUTTHAYA

NORTH THAILAND TRIP – PART 2 – WAT PHANAN CHOENG – AYUTTHAYA

The first place we wanted to visit was Ayutthaya an ancient capital, which also happen to be   a very busy industrial city, 90 KM north of Bangkok. We decided to sleep close the the airport (at the Novotel, so actually in the airport), and hire a driver and a guide for the day.

Ayutthaya has many interest, but mostly the Royal Palace and many temples. I have not posted any pictures of the Royal Palace, but actually it is not uninteresting. The vast compound is still supposed to be used today by the Royal Family. Constructions are of varying styles, and if your guide is knowledgeable and chatty as ours this makes for a nice visit.

Now more interesting are the temples; as in many big Thai city there are dozens of them; but due to time constraints we only visited 4; each very different.

After the visit of the Royal Palace, we headed to Wat Phanan Choeng. This is a big temple, famous for its (very) large, statue of sitting Buddha. This is a very busy temple specially on week ends; I am not sure if it is permanent but the day we visited the temple devotees were offering new orange robes for the Buddha. A extraordinary occasion to experience the devotion of Thai people.

Next we headed for lunch but nothing worth mentioning.

NORTH THAILAND TRIP – PART 2 – WAT PHANAN CHOENG – AYUTTHAYA

Fire Walking Ceremony – Sri Mariamman Temple – Singapore

Fire walking is a South Indian festival honoring the Hindu goddess Sri Draupadi, who is the wife of the five Pandava brothers who walked on hot coals to prove her purity.

This is the first time I can go to this ceremony. Total respect for the amount of faith, the sense of community and probably the amount of pain going on there.

The devotees arrive from Little India, a couple of km away in groups, some chanting, some with music, some singing and dancing.

They then arrive a few hundred meters from the Sri Maramiam temple and wait in a staging area.  All of this is very well organized; groups are allowed to pass from one area to the next by the organizers in order to organized the crowed. Some devotees told me they were expecting 5000 people.

I have seem this man many times in Thaipusam in the past years, seeing these people years after years in the viewfinder is one of the attractions I find in photographing these events.

I asked one of the Hindu man in the public how do the devotees group themselves; he told me they are friends and make a kind of team that make each of them stronger and helps them going through the ritual. Like a sport team he told me, doing this on your own would be much more difficult.

I did not really thought I could enter the temple, but as I was close to the entrance, one of the organizer asked me if I wanted get inside. I removed my shoes and they even gave me a plastic bag to carry them and I was moved inside the temple. Actually there is a special track for visitors and a different one for devotees.

The track goes along the fire pit, and although we are asked not to stay there too long I could witness two men doing the ritual.

This one above, was walking very casually (so to speak).

This one was more in running mode, you will notice the flower petals he through in the air before starting.

Walking out of the main temple area, people are waiting and resting and going through other stations, I must admit I am ignorant of what the whole pilgrimage consist of after the fire walking itself.

Outside people are resting.

The ground of the temple is covered in yellow power, probably not saffron more likely curcuma, clearly these feet have been walking through fire.

I saw a few times some ethnic Chinese Hindu in Singapore, here is one who was looking to be quite in pain,

I hope you enjoyed this post.

For my Hindu friends if you find a picture of yourself and you are not happy with that, let me know and I will remove it from this album, if you like them, let me know I’ll be enchanted. I am never sure if my schedule allowed but I would really enjoy meeting one of the groups and following you over an extended period of time to produce a photo-book of some sort.

Needless to say that these picture for my own interest in photography and the pleasure of sharing. They are a not for commercial use.

On a side note: I am a donkey sometime; when I pass at the temple on the afternoon I see this older gentleman of a photographer that I meet every year at Thaipusam. Not only did I not take his portrait but I did not ask for his contact. He carries a Nikon F5, if somebody knows him let me know.

Camera: Nikon D700
Lens: Nikkor 85mm F1.8D, only the first one is done with the 17-35F2.8AFS

Fire Walking Ceremony – Sri Mariamman Temple – Singapore

The Agfa Isolette III is back

My beloved Agfa Isolette III is back from repair and is (almost) ready to hit the road.

This medium format camera used 120 film (6×6) and has an uncoupled – rangefinder. It means you measure the distance with rangefinder on top of the body and report the measure on the lens. It was build in a series of models in the 50,s and the model III comes with various lens. Mine is a coated, 85mm F4.5 Apotar lens. Spead goes fro bulb to 1/300s.

My dad bought this camera in 1952 in Germany where he was doing his military service at the time. I still have the “never” ready case, the good and the yellow filer and their repective cases.

I used it a fair bit through the 90’s, for random shots, outings with friends, weddings and of course travels. Outside of France, this fellow came to Roma, Madrid, Berlin, brussels and more recently Singapore of course and Burma. (I also brought it to India but did not use it in the end).

A few years back I discovered the lens was stuck and an attempt to fix failed so it lied in the treasure box until I sent it to Jurgen for repair this summer.

I just got the first roll back and it looks the issue if now fixed and the focusing and shutter are all fine.

Still one small problem to fix: the rangefinder does not work anymore… nothing is perfect but you can see above that  the guessometer works fine.

The Agfa is a brilliant camera for travel: quite small, funny enough looking to attract more sympathy that reproach when shooting in the street. looking forward to bring it along.

 

 

The Agfa Isolette III is back