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7 Vesak Day Celebrations In Singapore To Receive Blessings For You, Your Family & Even Your Pets

Vesak Day 2023 – Events in Singapore to celebrate

To many of us, Vesak Day is just an excuse to sleep in on a weekday. But for worshippers of the Buddhist faith, this important festival commemorates the birth of Prince Siddharta and his enlightenment to become Buddha.

This year, the event falls on 2nd June 2023, and there’ll be festivities all around the island that are open to devotees and non-believers alike. Here are 7 Vesak Day celebrations in Singapore where you’ll get to learn more about Buddhist practices and even receive a blessing or two:

1. Bright Hill Temple – 3-Step, 1-Bow Ceremony

Singapore’s largest Buddhist temple, Bright Hill Temple, also known as Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery, will be hosting a number of events and activities for Vesak Day. 

vesak day singapore - Bright Hill TempleImage credit: Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery

Most notable is the 3-Step, 1-Bow Ceremony, where devotees circle the temple and bow at every 3rd step they take from night till dawn. This act of devotion not only pays respect to Buddha, but helps to humble the devotee as they work on their spirituality.

3-Step, 1-Bow Ceremony
Date & time: 11pm, 1st June to 7am, 2nd June
Venue: Hall of No Form, Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery

vesak day singapore - families activities corner
Image credit: Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery

On Vesak Day itself, get the fam together for the Families Activities Corner. Think of it as a mini-fair of sorts, with fun workshops for all ages like mindfulness colouring, yoga, face painting, and Heart Sutra Transcription.

Families Activities Corner
Date: 2nd June
Time: 10am-4pm
Venue: Ven Hong Choon Memorial Hall & Hall of No Form, Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery

Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery
Address: 88 Bright Hill Road, Singapore 574117
Opening hours: 8am-4pm
Contact: 6849 5300

2. Buddha Tooth Relic Temple – Vesak Day Bathing Blessing

vesak day singapore - Buddha Tooth Relic Temple
Image credit: @donnnut via Instagram

It’s hard to miss the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple if you’ve ever taken a walk around Chinatown. The Tang Dynasty-inspired building is said to hold the left canine tooth of Buddha, hence the name. As a place of worship that holds an important artefact of Buddha, it’s no surprise that there’ll be plenty of celebrations taking place during Vesak Day.

From now till 4th June 2023, catch the Vesak Day Bathing Blessing. The ceremony involves pouring fragrant water onto a statue of Prince Siddhartha, before he became Buddha. Lore states that the prince had been bathed by celestial dragons at his birth and this ritual is repeated by devotees to remember his birth.

The act is also performed as a way to purify the devotee’s mind of evil thoughts like greed and wrath, so that they are a step closer to enlightenment. The bathing of Buddha is also said to bring blessings, such as good health, fulfilled wishes, and peace to the one performing the ritual and their family. 

Vesak Day Bathing Blessing
Date: Now till 4th June 2023
Time: 9am-5pm
Venue: Hundred Dragons Hall, Buddha Tooth Relic Temple

vesak day singapore - Buddha Tooth Relic Temple blessing ritualImage credit: @btrts_singapore via Instagram

Devotees can also come on Vesak Day for a blessing ritual. After bathing the statue of Prince Siddhartha, devotees can then queue to be blessed by the monks. The monks will chant a short prayer and ring a bell over each devotee to bring fortune to the faithful.

Vesak Day Blessing
Date: 2nd June 2023
Time: 9am-4pm
Venue: Hundred Dragons Hall, Buddha Tooth Relic Temple

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple
Address: 288 South Bridge Road, Singapore 058840
Opening hours: 7am-5pm, Daily
Contact: 6220 0220

3. Amitabha Buddhist Centre – Unveiling of Buddha thangka

 After a number of scaled-down celebrations during Vesak Day, Amitabha Buddhist Centre will be hosting a wide range of familiar and new activities for Vesak Day at the open ground beside Aljunied MRT station. Festivities begin on the eve of Vesak Day until 3rd June 2023.

vesak day singapore - Amitabha Buddhist Centre Buddha thangka
Image credit: Amitabha Buddhist Centre (ABC) Facebook

Highlights include the 50ft-long Amitabha Buddha thangka (Tibetan Buddhist painting), which devotees can make offerings to, to accrue blessings. The painting isn’t just visually stunning, it’s also used in Pujas (prayer rituals), which are done to help ward off misfortune, illnesses, and obstacles in life. Such Pujas will also be on show on all 3 days of the event.

vesak day singapore - Amitabha Buddhist Centre
Image credit: Amitabha Buddhist Centre (ABC) Facebook

Apart from Pujas, expect traditional events such as the bathing of Prince Siddhartha and the gilding of the Shakyamuni Buddha statue. The gilding first requires devotees to purchase a gold leaf before it is used to cover the statue. Although a considerably small offering, doing so can be beneficial to the devotee who has wishes they want fulfilled.

New to celebrations this year is a Bodhicitta Art Colouring Contest that’s open to all ages. Budding artists can pick up colouring materials, as well as an outline drawing of the “Four Harmonious Friends” from a booth at the festival grounds. Winners will get to walk away with attractive prizes.

Amitabha Buddhist Centre Vesak Day Celebrations
Date: Now till 3rd June 2023
Time: *Hours may vary, check website for details
Venue: Field beside Aljunied MRT station, 81 Lorong 25 Geylang, Singapore 388310

Amitabha Buddhist Centre
Address: 44 Lorong 25A Geylang, Singapore 388244
Opening hours: Tue-Sat 10.30am-6pm | Sun 10am-6pm (Closed on Mondays)
Contact: 6745 8547

4. Thekchen Choling – Animal blessing night

Thekchen Choling made headlines last year for holding an animal blessing night for pets in 2022. The tradition continues in 2023 on the eve of Vesak Day at the Tibetan Buddhism temple. Bring your pets – dogs, cats, rabbits, birds – down on 1st June 2023, and the Sanghas will pour out a blessing onto you and your furbaby. 

vesak day singapore - Thekchen Choling animal blessing
Image credit: Thekchen Choling Singapore Facebook

Blessings can also be imparted onto pets that have recently crossed the rainbow bridge. The Sanghas will be able to recite a prayer for them to wish them well in the afterlife if you bring a photo or the ashes of your departed pet on this night.

vesak day singapore - Thekchen Choling wishing tree
Wishing tree.

Image credit: Thekchen Choling Singapore Facebook

There’ll be other animal-centric activities at Thekchen Choling throughout the evening, including paw painting to create a cute keepsake for your home, as well as a wishing tree where you can make wishes on your pet’s behalf. Pet food will also be handed out, as part of the temple’s goodwill. These activities are free to participate in, but donations to their Animal Welfare Fund are encouraged.

Animal Blessing Night
Date: 1st June 2023
Time: 7.30pm-10pm
Venue: Thekchen Choling

Thekchen Choling
Address: 2 Beatty Lane, Singapore 209945
Opening hours: 11am-7pm, Daily
Contact: 6466 3720

5. Mangala Vihara Temple – Annual relic exhibition

 Mangala Vihara Temple may be better known among worshippers as the Shrine of Blessings, but it’s also known for its Bodhi tree that’s been growing since the temple’s completion in 1960. This tree species holds deep significance for devotees, as it is under one where Prince Siddhartha was said to have achieved enlightenment.

vesak day singapore - Mangala Vihara Temple
Image credit: Buddhism and Daily Living

Venerations of the Bodhi tree are therefore done regularly at the Mangala Vihara Temple. Known as the Maha Bodhi Puja, this event kickstarts the rest of the Vesak celebrations. Offerings of food, water, incense, and lanterns are placed at the tree while monks recite prayers.

Maha Bodhi Puja
Date: 1st June 2023
Time: 6.45pm-7pm
Venue: Courtyard, Mangala Vihara Temple

vesak day singapore - Mangala Vihara Temple relics
Buddha Relic.
Image credit: James Tien via Google Maps

Not to be missed at Mangala Vihara Temple is the exhibition of the sacred Buddha Relic and Sivali Relic on Vesak Day. These are only displayed for viewing by the public once a year for veneration. Doing so will purportedly bring wisdom, blessings, and protection from evil, as well as prevent misfortune to devotees.

Buddha Relic And Sivali Relic Exhibition
Date: 2nd June 2023
Time: 9am-3pm
Venue: Shrine Hall, Mangala Vihara Temple

Mangala Vihara Temple
Address: 30 Jalan Eunos, Singapore 419495
Opening hours: 7am-8pm, Daily
Contact: 6744 4285

6. The Buddhist Library – Vesak Day Message

 If Vesak Day celebrations have you curious about the religious practice, head to The Buddhist Library, where there are countless books you can borrow to find out more about the subject matter. Although not tied to any specific school of thought or Buddhist tradition, the library is a great starting point to explore the fundamentals of Buddhism.

vesak day singapore - the buddhist library
Image credit: Victor Ma via Google Maps

Find out more about the teachings of Buddha by attending the Vesak Day Message and Dhamma Talk by the Buddhist Library Sangha. It’s the highlight of a whole day of activities planned for the occasion that also includes meditations and even a free vegetarian lunch for attendees.

vesak day singapore - the buddhist library 2
Image credit: The Buddhist Library

There will also be the more traditional rituals such as the morning and evening Pujas and blessings, bathing of Prince Siddhartha led by the Venerables, and candlelight procession in the evening.

Vesak Day 2023 Activities
Date: 2nd June 2023
Time: 8am-8pm
Venue: The Buddhist Library

The Buddhist Library
Address: 2 Lorong 24A Geylang, Singapore 398526
Opening hours: Tue-Fri 4pm-8pm | Sat 12pm-8pm | Sun 10am-5pm (Closed on Mondays)
Contact: 6746 8435

7. Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple – Sand mandala ceremonies

Possibly the centre of all Vesak Day celebrations in Singapore takes place at Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple, a Buddhist temple that’s been around since 1884. Celebrations already started on 24th May with the sand mandala, a symbol of a perfect universe in Tibetan Buddhist tradition.

vesak day singapore - Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple
Sand mandala.
Image credit: @yishkabob via Instagram

You’ll get to see the mandala from now till 3rd June 2023, after which the creation will be deconstructed as a symbol of the impermanence of life. Even in this ceremony, the mandala is treated with utmost respect, and elements are removed in a specific order.

The collected sand is then brought to the sea to be released, so that its healing energies can be carried throughout the world.

Sand Mandala Dissolution
Date: 3rd June 2023
Time: From 9am
Venue: Field beside Fortune Centre, 190 Middle Road, Singapore 188979

Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple
Address: 178 Waterloo St, Singapore 187964
Opening hours: 7am-12.15pm, 1pm-6.15pm, Daily

Where to celebrate Vesak Day in Singapore

 There you have it, 7 places to celebrate Vesak Day in Singapore, whether you’re a devoted worshipper or a curious soul seeking answers about the meaning of life. Instead of lazing about this long weekend wondering what to do, spend this long weekend a little more meaningfully by visiting these temples and the Buddhist Library to learn about Vesak Day.

More long weekend things to do:

Cover image adapted from: Thekchen Choling Singapore Facebook, Amitabha Buddhist Centre (ABC) Facebook