The Ten Thousand Buddhas Pagoda with as many golden tiny sculptures representing the Buddha surrounds another, smaller pagoda (seen above), where a huge, enamel-gilt Vairocana Buddha Prayer Wheel is slowly turned around by the faithful. It churns out prayers to the gods up in the skies.
Last week, I had much longed for visitors here in Singapore. My sister and her youngest daughter spent their "skiing holiday" here in Singapore doing everything else but skiing, a sport so ingrained in the Finnish culture that even the winter school holiday is called after it. While exploring as much as possible of Singapore and its culture during this all too tiny length of time, we ended up at the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple in Chinatown. Built in Ming-period style and opened only in 2007, this eye-catchingly colorful and gilded (well, rather garish, really...) temple houses a revered relic said to be a tooth of Buddha.
Ferns, frangipanis and orchids - even a species called Dendrobium Buddha Tooth after the temple - fill the luxuriously green and shady rooftop garden, protected by the pagoda walls and roofs from all sides.
What I - and probably many other visitors - have missed during my previous visits is climbing up to the rooftop level of the building. Here, above the busy temple (where less wattage and bling would surely have been enough to make the gods equally happy), a roof garden with its lush, rich planting forms a calm and serene oasis to enjoy by the faithful and the tired wanderers alike. Palms, ferns, frangipanis and numerous varieties of orchids - even a species called Dendrobium Buddha Tooth after the temple - fill the luxuriously green and shady rooftop garden, gently protected by the pagoda walls and roofs from leaf ripping winds and stinging rays of sunshine. In my secular mind, a quiet contemplation of the tropical beauty of the plants should be as worthy as a prayer as any chanted in front of the gilded sculptures.