BUDDHIST News PALELAI BUDDHIST News PALELAI BUDDHIST TEMPLE ... (Venerable Ong Kah Keng), ... Mahasi Meditation Centre to learn medi-

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<ul><li><p>55</p><p>BUDDHIST NewsPALELAI BUDDHIST TEMPLE</p><p>In the month of August, Palelai Buddhist Temple celebrated SG 50 with a line-up of large-scale religious events that were held to transfer merits to participants and their families as well as to the nation and its leaders</p><p>Mass Ordination57 local men, with the oldest at age 75, took part in a mass novitiate programme that lasted from Aug 1 to 10. The ordi-nation ceremony was conducted in Mandarin and Hokkien by Venerable Chao Khun Dhammavidhesa (Venerable Ong Kah Keng), who is the first Singaporean monk to be con-ferred the title of Chao Khun by the King of Thailand. The novices observed monastic rules, underwent intensive medi-tation training, studied the Dhamma and lived the life of a mendicant monk during the novitiate period. </p><p>The ordination started on Aug 1 afternoon with the tradi-tional hair-shaving held at the temple. On the following af-ternoon, the novices sought forgiveness from and presented flowers to their loved ones. Thereafter, they went to Tuas and boarded a chartered boat that brought them to the open sea. In the boat, they requested the monastic elders to ac-cept them into monkhood in a formal ceremony and then put on the saffron robe. On Aug 7, they were invited to Bud-dhist Fellowship West Centre for alms offerings. On Aug 8, they took part in an overnight chanting and meditation at the </p><p>temple to transfer merits to the nation and its late leaders, especially to the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew. And in the morning of Aug 9, they went on an alms-round in the compound of the temple receiving offerings from devotees.</p><p>Commemorative AmuletsThe temple also minted ten thousand pieces of specially de- signed Buddhist amulets with the marking of SG50. They were consecrated with blessings by monks during the over-night chanting and meditation and distributed to the partici-pants of the alms-round as well as to other devotees.</p><p>Commemorative Book On PBT In December, Palelai Buddhist Temple will publish a com-memorative book depicting its 50 years of history since its founding in 1963. It will record the significant events that had taken place at the temple over those years.</p><p>Ajahn Dtuns Dhamma TalksAjahn Dtun will be coming to Singapore and residing at the temple from Nov 28 to 30. He will also be holding Dhamma talks and Q&amp;A sessions for devotees. Born in Ayutthaya, the Venerable was ordained in 1978 under the late erudite Dhamma Master Ajahn Chah. Later, he learnt and practised Dhamma at Wat Krahm until 1984 when he went into seclu-sion. In 1992, he established Wat Boonyawad.</p><p>p55-PALELAI BUDDHIST TEMPLE.indd 55 2015/8/20 12:54:32</p></li><li><p>56</p><p>BUDDHIST News</p><p>Late Founder</p><p>The late Venerable MM Mahaweera (16 Jan 1913 - 12 Jun 2002) was born in Matara, Sri Lanka. At age 12, he was or-dained under Venerable P. Sumanasara. In 1929, he came for the first time to the Malay peninsula and stayed at the Brick-fields Temple in Kuala Lumpur. However, it was not until December 1934 that he set foot in Singapore with his preceptor and a fellow monk to embark on his missionary work. He first stayed at a 3-storey build-ing in Spottiswoode Park Road, and just before World War II, he founded the Sin-gapore Buddhist Association (SBA) and built the Singapore Sinhalese Temple (the building of which is still in existence) to accommodate a growing number of Sin-halese as well as Peranakan Chinese dev-otees. He also divided the Chinese group into the English and Pali Sections under SBA to cater to their different needs. Later, the English Section, headed by Tan Keng Lock (Venerable Dhammasukha), broke away and developed into the Bud-dhist Union as we know it today, while the Pali Section followed closely the late Venerable, and in the course of time, built Mangala Vihara. Thus, from this perspec-tive, the late Venerable had indeed played a pivotal role in the formation of three im-portant Buddhist temples in the last cen-tury. Besides, the late Venerable was the first Theravada monk to introduce a sys-tematic and structured Buddhist educa-tion in Singapore and he was also instru-</p><p>About Mangala ViharaWith a large marble Buddha statue un-der a luxuriant Bodhi tree and a typical Sanchi Gate at its entrance, Mangala Vihara (Temple of Blessings) stands as a prominent landmark at the junction of Sims Avenue East and Jalan Eunos. This modern-looking temple is certainly not the oldest Theravada temple in Singa-pore, but its founder, the late Venerable MM Mahaweera, was evidently the first Theravada monk who came to and resided permanently in this country. And with its long established Sunday Dhamma School and the associated Buddhist and Pali Col-lege of Singapore, the temple is no doubt the foremost Theravada educational es-tablishment on the island.</p><p>However, Mangala Vihara did not begin from where it now stands. It started out modestly as a congregation of mostly English-speaking Peranakan Chinese who formed the Pali Section of the Singapore Buddhist Association (predecessor of Singapore Sinhala Buddhist Association) which the late Venerable founded in late 1930s. That small group of devotees first assembled regularly at the Singapore Sin-halese Temple in Outram Road, and later moved to the much spacious Sri Lankara-maya Temple in St Michaels Road, when it was completed in 1951. But soon after, they had to leave the new temple as its management committee decided to main-tain its distinct Sinhalese identity. As a result, they had to register and operate un-der Singapore Buddhist Pali Society and lease private premises to carry on their activities. A few years later, things took a turn for the better, they were generously gifted a piece of land in Jalan Eunos by the late Mdm Chew Quee Neo, daughter of Chew Joo Chiat, a rich merchant and landowner after whom Joo Chiat Road was named. And on it, they built the two-storey Mangala Vihara in 1960. </p><p>Then in 1983, a 3-storey annex building was added and subsequently in 1994, the original two-storey building was demolished and replaced with a new building housing a much bigger shrine hall to accommodate the growing con-gregation especially on festive occasions, as well as a basement carpark and more classrooms and facilities for conducting Dhamma lessons and other activities.</p><p>MANGALA VIHARA AN EVOLVING THERAVADA BUDDHIST TEMPLE</p><p>mental in setting up the Buddhist and Pali College of Singapore, which has greatly promoted Theravada Buddhist education here since 1993.</p><p>Start of the Evolving Process Under the spiritual guidance of the late Venerable, and even over the next few years after his demise, while under Ven-erable Dr. K. Sri Pemaloka and Vener-able Dr. I. Indasara, Mangala Vihara was viewed basically as a temple more inclined towards the Sinhalese Buddhist tradition and visited mainly by the English-speak-ing Chinese and some Sinhalese devotees. But this perception began to change after Venerable Cittara, a Burmese monk, who came to the temple in 2003, and subse-quently, more changes took place after he became the resident monk in 2008. Incumbent Resident Monk </p><p>Venerable Cittara was born in 1969 in Sagaing in central Myanmar and ordained at age 15 under Sayadaw U Vizaya. After completing his monastic training, he en-tered and later graduated from State Pri-yatti Sasana University in Mandalay. In 1997, he was sent to southern Myanmar to provide spiritual and welfare support for some 200 households. In 2000, he joined the Mahasantisukha Buddhist Missionary Centre in Yangon and was trained there for foreign missionary work until May 2003 when he came to the Burmese Tem-ple in Tai Gin Road, just before he was </p><p>p56-57-MANGALA VIHARA.indd 56 2015/8/20 13:04:50</p></li><li><p>57</p><p>BUDDHIST Newsinvited to Mangala Vihara to assist the then resident monk Venerable Pemaloka. And while serving the temple, he studied and obtained an MA degree in Buddhism from the Buddhist and Pali University of Sri Lanka.</p><p>Venerable Cittara has over the years in-fused Burmese Buddhist elements into the activities of the temple, for instance, with more emphasis on meditation and the teaching of Abhidhamma. Moreover, due to ethnic affinity, a growing number of Burmese devotees are attracted by him to the temple from around the island. Cur-rently, he conducts weekly Buddhist les-sons in Burmese, separately for around 60 children and 100 adults. Such are some of the noticeable changes in the temple that occurred since his arrival.</p><p>A spiritual adviser of NUS Buddhist So-ciety, the Venerable has been invited to conduct meditation courses for Buddhist societies at institutions of higher learn-ing as well as other Buddhist organisa-tions. Besides, he is an adept translator. His translation of a book by a very emi-nent Singapore leader is the best-seller in Myanmar and now in its eighth reprint. Another translation is also well under way of a popular book on conflict of cultures. </p><p>The Venerable Cittara is assisted in run-ning the religious and educational activi-ties of the temple by three other monks, two of whom from abroad and a local.</p><p>Foreign Assistant Monks </p><p>The two foreign assistant monks are Ven-erable P. Seelananda from Sri Lanka and Venerable Ashin Cakkapala from central Myanmar. They each hold a MA degree in Buddhist Studies from universities in Sri Lanka. So far, they have served the temple for six years and two years respectively.</p><p>Local Assistant MonkBorn a Singaporean, Venerable Raja started attending Mangala Vihara Sun-day Dhamma classes in 1988 and after completing the 5-year structured YMBA courses, he joined the teaching staff for ten years. During that time, he was also an active participant and helper in temples activities. In 2004, he went to Yangon Mahasi Meditation Centre to learn medi-tation and later sought ordination under his meditation teacher Sayadaw U Jatila. </p><p>He also learnt meditation under Sayadaw U Tejaniya at Shwe Oo Min Dhamma Sukha Forest Meditation Centre. After returning to Singapore, he stayed at the Satipatthana Meditation Centre for a few years, teaching meditation in Chinese. In 2009, he became an assistant resident monk at the temple.</p><p>Venerable Raja, being proficient in Eng-lish, Mandarin and dialects, adds Chinese tones to the ambience of the temple. He is the first monk to start conducting Thera-vada Buddhist Studies in Chinese based on the syllabus of YMBA in Colombo, Sri Lanka. A 4-year course with over 100 stu-dents is held every Friday night at 7.00-9.30pm. He also initiated the Sati Bhavana Group, which runs meditation courses in Mandarin and Hokkien. Apart from orga-nizing yearly retreats in the region, he also started the TBSC Spiritual Support Group networks which provide spiritual support services to the Buddhist communities in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan and New Zealand. Recently, he together with three others set up the Dhammakaki (Friends of Dhamma) Group where retir-ees and senior citizens could come togeth-er on Thursday afternoon to discuss issues of daily life and Buddhism in English, Mandarin and dialects. Moreover, to cre-ate a platform for local monks and nuns to share their Dhamma, he invites them to the temple every Wednesday to give talks in English, Chinese and dialects. </p><p>Sunday Dhamma School</p><p>The school was started by the late Vener-able Mahaweera in 1960 with 2 teaqchers and 5 classes. Its syllabus was set by the Young Mens Buddhist Association in Co-lombo, Sri Lanka. The school has kinder-garten and lower preliminary classes for children aged 12 and below, youth classes for those between age 13 and 20 as well as classes for adults ranging from junior to diploma levels. All the classes are con-ducted free of charge, and notes and text-books are provided. The yearly examina-tions are held on the last Sunday of June. Currently, the school has an enrolment of </p><p>around 140 students including children and adults, and it functions from 9.30am to 12 noon every Sunday. Before lessons, all students are assembled in the shrine hall for a short puja and weekly instruc-tions, and after school, they are provided with a free vegetarian lunch.</p><p>Other ProgrammesApart from its formal and structured Sunday Dhamma School, Mangala Vi-hara also in 2009 formed Mangala Vi-hara Dhamma Fellowship (MVDF) which promotes bonding and interaction be-tween current and past students as well as conducts a wide variety of innovative spiritual, education, health, social and community outreach programmes. Their activities include Dhamma courses, talks and discussions, sutta study classes, med-itation sessions, paritta and blessings for the sick, Buddhist art drawing lessons, qi-gong, taiji, visits to holy places and chari-table homes, etc. </p><p>Management Committee Chairman The running of the temple is managed by a team of capable and dedicated commit-tee members headed by its chairman, Dr Lim Ah Swan.</p><p>Dr Lim, age 65, has retired, having worked in the financial industry all his working life. He came to Mangala Vihara in 1969 and attended its Sunday Dhamma School all the way until he obtained a di-ploma in Buddhism. He has served the management committee in various capac-ities in early years and was first elected its chairman in 1990. He has since played this vital role non-stop, making great contributions to the temple, the most out-standing of which were in the reconstruc-tion of the new shrine hall and in assisting the late Venerable in establishing the Bud-dhist and Pali College of Singapore. Dr Lim himself was in the first intake of the college and is among the only three PhD holders of the college graduates to date.</p><p> Ven. Seelananda (L) Ven. Cakkapala (R)</p><p>p56-57-MANGALA VIHARA.indd 57 2015/8/20 13:05:27</p></li><li><p>58</p><p>BUDDHIST News</p><p>Located within the premises of Mangala Vihara and currently run by its manage- ment committee, Buddhist and Pali Col- lege of Singapore was actually initiated in early 1990s by Ti-Sarana Buddhist Association which garnered the support of nine other Buddhist organisations. With their plans, they approached the late Venerable MM Mahaweera for his blessings and help which the late Vener- able gladly and readily rendered. Then, the Mangala Vihara management com-mittee headed by Dr Lim Ah Swan ap-plied to the Ministry of Education for a licence for the proposed college. A licence was finally granted with the col-lege being exempted from the require-ments of Education Act. And the first batch of 44 diploma students started their lessons in September 1993. Soon after, the late Venerable also applied to the Buddhist and Pali University of Sri Lanka for an affiliation status and it was granted in 1994. The university to which the college is affiliated was formed in 1982. It is a Commonwealth university that not only promotes Bud-dhist and Pali studies in Sri Lanka and abroad but also provides resources and facilities for research in Buddhist stud-ies. Its degrees are internationally rec-ognized.</p><p>BPCS was set up with the mission of providing tertiary education in Bud-dhist studies leading to the award of Diploma...</p></li></ul>