Bright Hill is a neighbourhood located near the city centre of Singapore. Built on a hilltop is a Buddhist religious institution that took its name from the area’s most famous landmark, Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery (KMSPKS), which was founded in the midst of a former rubber plantation. The monastery was founded in 1921 by Venerable Sik Zhuan Dao, who wanted to create a hotel for monks. It also served as a place of Buddhist study and practice.
The Phor Kark See Monastery is Singapore’s largest Buddhist temple, covering almost 20 acres – the size of 11 football fields. There is a greater feeling of natural serenity in the setting with both Lower Pierce Reservoir and MacRitchie Reservoir to its west and south, respectively, as well as Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park’s lush greenery to its north.
Thousands of Buddhists visit the temple to make merit every year during Vesak Day, the most important day in the Buddhist calendar. Many people will begin by performing the “Three-step, one-bow” ceremony first established by this temple in 1984. At the conclusion of this procession, devotees chant mantras or the name of Buddha and bow once every three steps as they circle the temple’s perimeter.
Even for non-religious visitors like myself, the exquisite craftsmanship that may be seen throughout the complex is breathtaking. The architecture of the property is a unique combination of Southern Chinese and Southeast Asian architectural styles, with dramatic dragon-topped tiled roofs, meticulously manicured gardens, and bright verandahs.
The Singapore Buddhist Federation and Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery have joined forces to organize a Vesak celebration this year. The highlights of this celebration are the six huge lanterns created by Sichuan’s renowned lantern makers, who are in charge of this year’s River Hongbao light up.