Sunday, February 20, 2011

#8 Maha Sasana Ramsi Burmese Buddhist Temple, 14 Tai Gin Road

Maha Sasana Ramsi Burmese Buddhist Temple was founded by U Kyaw Gaung in 1921. He was a Burmese practitioner of traditional medicine and brought a 10-tonne, 11-feet high marble sculpture of the Buddha to Singapore from Saygin Hill, a quarry north of Mandalay. The sculpture was then placed at the temple’s original location at 17 Kinta Road, just off Serangoon Road, only to be moved to its current location on Tai Gin road in 1990. It is the oldest Theravada institution and the only Burmese Buddhist temple of its kind in Singapore. . The temple houses the largest pure white marble statue of the Buddha outside of Myanmar, and has become a religious landmark for Burmese and Singaporean devotees to make merits and take part in merit sharing activities alike. At the Maha Sasana Ramsi Burmese Buddhist Temple at Tai Gin Road, the figurines of 'spirits' on the walls are called 'tha-djar-min' in Burmese. He is the King of celestial deities. He is also the Guardian of Buddha Sasana (meaning Buddha's teachings). The Lion figurines are called 'chin-thay'. Up till this day, descendants of U Kyaw Gaung still live in Singapore and continue to be the trustees of the temple.

During Buddhist holidays and Burmese festivals, the temple would see a large congregation of the Burmese community in Singapore. There is a fair and celebration in the temple during the Burmese New Year, Thingyan, which falls in the month of April each year. However, the unofficial “Little Burma” in Singapore lies in the civic district. The usual congregation place for the Burmese community is at Peninsula Plaza where there is a supermarket, shops selling Burmese products and even a restaurant with menu in the Burmese language.

There are some other roads in this area which are Burmese-themed. They are Akyab Road(named after a port in Burma) Bassein Road (named after a river town) Bhamo Road (named after a Burmese town) Irrawaddy Road (named after the Irrawaddy river) Mandalay Road (named after the royal capital of Myanmar from 1860 to 1885) Martaban Road (road was named in 1929 to continue the Burmese theme in the area) Pegu Road (named after a river town) Prome Road (named after one the oldest cities which was a commercial town and port in 1952) Rangoon Road (named after the administrative capital of British Burma). It is believed that the suggestion to name the road after Burmese towns and kingdoms came from an old and respected Burmese resident in the area. Others speculate that it could be because of the proximity to the Burmese temple’s original location at Kinta Road or even named after various British conquests in parts of Burma! This is because the British colonised Burma from 1824 to 1948.

Our group was in awe of the magnificent architecture of the temple. Just right at its doorstep, one would already be able to see the lights emanating from inside the temple. Its accessibility to the public has been enhanced with its shift from Kinta road to its current location. What’s more is that it is just a stone’s throw away from Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall, and that its visitors can always drop by this temple to pay a visit to the largest pure white marble statue of the Buddha outside of Myanmar. (:


I had no idea we had a burmese budhhist temple at balestier road. This Burmese temple was actually founded by U Kyaw Gaung in 1921 when he brought in from Mandalay a 10-tonne, 11 feet high marble scupture of teh Buddha. The temple was first located off Serangoon rd and was moved to this current location in 1990.

Actually I did not really find the temple interesting, what I found most interesting about this trip to Balestier was that quite a number of the sub-roads linking to Balestier was actually named after Burmese towns and kingdoms. Although it is not known what resulted in the roads having burmese names, we can only guess that its due to the rich burmese culture within the area. These roads were actually named in the early part of the 20th century and thus could not be due to the fact that the Burmese temple was nearly. It was more likely that the temple was moved into the area due to the Burmese road names rather than the other way round. Of course this is just a speculation (on my part).


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