Saturday, July 17, 2010

Wat Palelai

Last Sunday Ananda, Samatha, Tathata, Min Than and I drove out to Wat Palelai in Bedok on the eastern side of Singapore. It is about 25 years since I have been there and the place has undergone something of a transformation since my last visit. Now the temple has a fine new library and conducts regular Dhamma talks and meditation sessions. But equally interestingly, the new hall and shrine (Chedi Dhammasathit) has been decorated with some surprisingly fine art. In ancient times most Buddhist temples were repositories of beautiful sculpture, paintings, furnishings, etc, but this could hardly be said of most of today’s temples. The rear wall of the new Chedi Dhammasathit is covered with carved stone panels depicting the main events in the life of the Buddha. The Thai sculptur Khun Teerayuut Daochanterk created these beautiful panels out of a fine-grained softly-yellow sandstone which seems to enhance their appeal. Even more pleasing is the large mural in the main shrine room. This really is worth going all the way out to Bedok to see. The mural depicts the Buddha flanked by Sariputta and Moggallana and surrounded by a host of monks and nuns, lay disciples, devas, nagas and other mythical beings. This is a pretty standard composition but here the artist has combined the traditional Thai style of painting with what looks like Indian Pala forms and has used strikingly bold colours. The effect is quite stunning, innovative but clearly connected with authentic Buddhist artistic tradition. If you are in Singapore go and see it.

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