Monday, May 13, 2013

Life, Death And Bukit Brown

Driving along the Pan-island Freeway near Thomson Rd is one of the few hints that it is there. Elsewhere it is obscured by homes, shops and yet more roads and freeways. Bukit Brown is the largest cemetery in Singapore and since it was closed in 1970 it has reverted to forest so as to become an abode for the living rather than the dead – for numerous species birds, butterflies, monkeys and other wildlife. The oldest grave so far found in the cemetery dates from the 1830s, most date from the early 20th century onwards. There are about 100,000 graves altogether and of trees, ferns, creepers, orchards, mosses and grasses no one can say. Unfortunately, parts of the cemetery are marked for destruction to make way for a four-lane highway. During a recent visit to Bukit Brown I noticed that remains are already being disinterred and many graves have markers indicating that they too are soon to go. What a pity that such beautiful old graves, the wildlife and the greenery had to give way for yet more asphalt and exhaust fumes.

The first picture is of me amongst the Dieffenbachia. Fourth picture; during the British period wealthy Chinese used to employ Sikhs to guard  their homes and businesses so it only made sense to employ then in the afterlife. The Sixth picture is of a Jade Boy. Such young men used to serve Chinese emperors and so many graves have these figures to serve them in the afterlife. Eighth picture, lovely Asplenium nidus find a home on the limbs of large trees.  
To find out more about Bukit Brown have a look at

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Some lovely photos, Bhante. I feel the same about those roads: always more, carving their way across the land, and in their wake comes urban expansion. I recall being so inspired by reading the biography of a forest monk (Ajahn Tate, I think) I decided I'd like my next existence to be lived out like him. But the rate nature is being stripped away I'd have find another planet to have any success!