Monday, August 18, 2014

Salvation Ritual in Bukit Brown

It is now smack in the middle of the 7th month Hungry Ghost festival where wandering ghost are everywhere and festivities to commemorate this occasion can be seen throughout Singapore and that includes the burning of incense, joss paper and offering of food. Getai and wayang are also common features during this month. In Bukit Brown, there are also various ceremonies held by various religious groups, which can be seen as "spiritual philanthropy", to do good deeds to help the wandering spirits cross over to the spiritual realm (as opposed to staying in the realm of the living) or to provide food for the wandering spirits. Many of such ceremonies are held at specific days or hours and held mostly at night. Yesterday i was fortunate to witness one of this 7th month or Hungry Ghost festival ritual in broad daylight. The ritual is called "Salvation Ritual" and it was conducted by Taoist Master, Jave Wu.

A young Taoist Master in his early 30's, Jave made a pledge that he will conduct this salvation ritual out of his own pocket (hence: spiritual philanthropy ) to help bring peace to the wandering souls of Bukit Brown and Greater Bukit Brown area. He finally found time to do it this year and i thought it was timely especially with the exhumation of the affected tombs by the 8 lane highway all completed. As i am not able to converse nor read in Mandarin, i am fortunate to have Jave patiently explained to the observers in English what the ritual was about and its significance after the entire ceremony was over.

Taoist Master Jave Wu conducting his salvation ritual 
Offerings on the table as well as the Tablets 
The ritual is made of a few parts which i hopefully summarised and concise correctly after listening to the Taoist Master (if there is a mistake in interpretation, it is mine alone for not jotting everything). The stages include (1) The summoning of the wandering ghost from Bukit Brown to get them to gather in the ceremonial area (2) The cleansing of the wandering spirits as well to prepare for them to leave peaceful from the realm of living to the spiritual realm  (3) The petition to the heavenly deities in charge to open the heavenly portal. (4) Preparation of cleansed wandering ghost to depart to the spiritual via boarding of the carriage that will help "spring" them to the spiritual realm and the burning of offerings to help ease this process.

Below are some pictures of the ceremony which is something new to me. I am especially impressed to see a Taoist Master who sings and chants in a very melodious manner through the ritual. Another thing that struck me was the youthfulness of the Taoist Priest and his equally youthful apprentices.

Young Apprentices continuing an age old tradition 
Tablets, petitions and offering readied to be sent
(Bukit Brown, Seh Ong, Kopi Sua is mentioned on this tablet) 
Offerings being burn
Offerings being sent to the spiritual realm 
Jave explaining about the significance of the bun
Close up of the bun which is symbolic of the transport which is boarded
by  the wandering spirits. It will spring board them to the spiritual realm 

There was a large ceremony held last night judging from the joss paper strewn around 

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