For this project, we could choose any location to work and research on. After much consideration, I decided on Waterloo street, an area that I often visit to pray at the Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple. This area was chosen as it had been brought up to me that there had been a Hindu temple right next to the Buddhist temple. After more research, I found out that within a 15mins walk radius, there had been numerous places of worship, namely:
- Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple
- Sri Krishan Temple
- Church of Saints Peter and Paul
- Maghain Abbot
- Cathedral of the Good Shepherd
Realizing there were so many places of worship from different religions in the same area, I became interested in the idea of interfaith: a cooperative, constructive, and positive interaction between people of different religious traditions and/or spiritual or humanistic beliefs, at both the individual and institutional levels.
I thus decided to do on Waterloo street and scouted the area, only to find that there were many places regarding the arts that had been situated in there as well. It had been unique that the bras basah area, in general, had many areas of both the arts and faith.
To see what people thought about Bras Basah and Waterloo Street, I made a survey to ask people of their views. I firstly asked people of around my age group, then spread to others, and the results had been highly amusing.
To begin, one question I had asked was if they had been to Bras Basah. To which the first few surveyees had answered “no”. Since they are my friends, I had been quite positive they had been there before and questioned them about it. I then realized that they had indeed been there but had failed to recognise that the place they had been to had been Waterloo street, or that Waterloo Street had been in Bras Basah. It was thus a very interesting discovery and I changed my survey so people better understood the place.
Since I had asked those in the 18-24 age group first, before moving to those in older age groups, I realised that those around 20 years old tend to think of Bras Basah as an old place with many places involving the arts. They did not know much about the different places of religion and if they did, they only knew of the Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple.
The older generation, on the other hand, knew about the place and also were aware of the history of Waterloo street and why it was of importance to Singapore.
Below are the results of my survey.
Link to all surveyees’ answers: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1-eeHRn0OU6t4j7SxGoH2Wd3Ze65D6zGMLhikP1j1jjo/edit?usp=sharing
I had also gone there to interview a few people and also ask others some casual questions.
One person I interviewed had been a helper for charity; asking around for donations. He had specially chosen to do this outside of the Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple due to the high traffic flow. He had single-handedly raised up to $2k in a single day because it had been the 15th of the lunar calendar.
This suggested that among all the places of worship, the Buddhist temple had been the most popular. This was also supported by the Hindu temple’s helper saying that the Sri Krishnan Temple’s traffic flow followed that of the Buddhist one. He had mentioned that the 1st and the 15th of the lunar calendar meant that the Buddhist temple would be busy and thus the Hindu Temple would be busy as well.
Apart from all these, I also realised through my personal observation that many people had actually prayed to the Sri Krishnan Temple despite being a Buddhist. I asked around and many had actually mentioned that they felt that paying their respects and praying to the different temples had been normal for them.
Others had mentioned Singapore being multi-religious to the point that they see Buddhists and Hindus in churches just to accompany their friends, and they also pray along with the people in there, just as a form of respect despite not following the religion. One lady also mentioned seeing people of other religions pray the way they do in their own place of worship in the Sri Krishnan Temple, i.e. Buddhists praying the way they do in Buddhist temples in the Hindu Temple. This is not done out of disrespect, but more of just acceptance of the different religions and believing that they are allowed to pray to the different gods, even ones of different religions.
When I asked those in the churches and cathedrals, the answers were generally similar, though I realise they tend to be less open to praying to other places of worship though they do accept and acknowledge the other religions.
One question I asked which received replies from both ends of the spectrum was about the arts. I had asked if they thought there had been a connection of the arts to religion. I received replies such as “The arts and religion have no connection at all” and also the exact opposite: “The arts help to strengthen religion and also open people to the acceptance of different religions”.
Thus, overall, it had been an extremely insightful and fun experience.