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Man Fatt Lam (万佛林)

Chinese. Name of a Mahayana Buddhist temple in Singapore, that serves mainly as a funeral and cremation centre, and that is also known as Wan Fo Lin Simiao or Wan Fu Lin Simiao (万佛林寺庙), i.e. ‘Temple of the Circle of Ten Thousand Buddhas’. It hence has a furnace-like apparatus with several cremation chambers; columbaria, i.e. rooms with niches where the funeral urns are stored; and shrine-like halls for ancestor worship, with altars for ancestral tablets (fig.). The main hall, known as Da Xiong Bao Dian (大雄寶殿), i.e. the ‘Hall of Great Strength’, houses a Buddha statue seated in the lotus position on a lotus pedestal and in a blessing pose, underneath a giant lotus that is attached to the ceiling, whereas the walls and special columns are decorated with thousands of semi-translucent orange tablets with depictions of Buddha, a hint from where the temple gets its name. Akin to Taoist temples, either side of the entrance has a large door guardian, namely a bronze  of Ha Jiang (fig.), the ‘Yawning General’, ‘Breathing General’ or ‘Laughing General’, who is always depicted with his mouth open, and one of Heng Jiang (fig.), the ‘Groaning General’ or ‘Snorting General’, who is always depicted with his mouth closed. Over the doors on the inside of the hall is a golden statue of Wei Tuo (fig.), which is flanked on either side by golden statues of the ‘Four Heavenly Kings’, who are known in Chinese as Si Tian Wang (fig.), four guardian gods, of which there is one for each of the cardinal directions. Opposite to each other, in front of the main hall, are two lesser halls. The one on the right, known as Mituo Dian (彌陀殿), i.e. ‘Amitabha Hall’, houses a statue of Amitabha (fig.), i.e. one of the five transcendental Buddhas or Five Great Buddhas of Mahayana Buddhism, who reigns over the Western Paradise and who is the personification of Eternal Light. His statue is flanked by two other deities, while the walls and columns of the hall are also decorated with countless semi-translucent yellowish orange slabs with depictions of Buddha. The lesser hall on the left is known as Jixiang Dian (吉祥殿), i.e. the ‘Hall of Good Fortune’, and houses a marble Burmese-style reclining Buddha statue, whilst its walls are covered with countless semi-translucent blue tablets with depictions of Buddha. Alongside an open corridor to the right of the ‘Hall of Great Strength’ are small granite statues of the Eighteen Arahats (fig.). In the back of this corridor is a statue of Huan Xi Fo (fig.), the so-called ‘Smiling Buddha’ or ‘Happy Buddha’, whilst to the right of this is another lesser hall, known as Guan Yin Dian (觀音殿), i.e. the ‘Hall of Kuan Yin (fig.)’, the Chinese goddess of Mercy. In front of this hall is another statue of the ‘Smiling Buddha’. Inside, the statue of Kuan Yin is placed on the main altar and is flanked on the left by a statue of Samantabhadra, known in Chinese as Puxian (fig.), who is the Bodhisattva of Truth in Mahayana Buddhism and is depicted seated on an elephant with six tusks (fig.) and holding a ruyi (fig.), an ancient scepter-like object with the shape of a lotus flower, a sacred flower that symbolizes Enlightenment; on the right side of Kuan Yin is a statue of the bodhisattva Manjushri (fig.), known in Chinese as Wen Shu (fig.), which means ‘Unique Culture’. He is the Mahayana god of Learning and Wisdom, and is depicted seated on a lion and holding a sword and a scroll. The inner walls of the Kuan Yin Hall are covered with countless semi-translucent white tablets with depictions of Buddha. In the back of the temple's main ‘Hall of Great Strength’, is a lesser hall used for ancestor worship. It has an elongated altar where ancestral tablets can be placed and in front of it is a statue of Tai Hong Kong (fig.), a Chinese monk with a typical Chinese monk's hat (fig.) known as a Buddhist Ritual Crown (fig.), who collects and takes care of the bodies of the deceased who have no relatives, whilst against the opposite wall is a large wooden statue of Ti Tsang (fig.), the Chinese bodhisattva of hell beings holding a xi zhang (锡杖) or khakkhara, i.e. a Buddhist beggar's staff (fig.), as well as a chintamani (fig.) or so-called wishing jewel, known in Chinese as Ruyi Baozhu (如意寶珠), literally ‘Wish-fulfilling Precious Pearl’. Adjacent to this, to the left of the main hall, are several columbaria and another hall for the display of ancestral tablets. Both places feature a gilded statue of Tai Hong Kong and Ti Tsang, the latter now akin to the former also wearing the Buddhist Ritual Crown. In the left front of the temple complex is the crematorium and adjacent to it are some stupas that contain the ashes of deceased monks. Visitors will come to this temple to burn incense and candles that are sold in the form of a calabash (fig.), a Chinese symbol for health and longevity. WATCH VIDEO.