Oldest Thai temple in Singapore turns 100
Wat Ananda Metyarama is the oldest Thai Buddhist temple in Singapore
As a boy in the 1960s, Mr Lim Keng Boon would follow his parents to the Wat Ananda Metyarama Thai Buddhist Temple in Jalan Bukit Merah for prayers.
Mr Lim, now 64 and retired, would go on to dedicate 54 years of his life volunteering and organising events for the temple.
Yesterday, at a 100th anniversary celebration lunch for the temple, Mr Lim received an award for his long service from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
"When I started going to the temple, it was a simple place surrounded by attap huts. It is now very modern and impressive," said Mr Lim, who used to work in a travel agency.
Founded in 1918 by the Venerable Luang Phor Hong Dhammaratano and completed in 1923, the Wat Ananda Metyarama is the oldest Thai Buddhist temple in Singapore and plays a pivotal role in the history of the religion - it is the first temple recognised by Thai royalty outside of Thailand.
About 1,500 people turned up for the three-hour-long celebration, including Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and Second Minister for Finance, Education and Law Indranee Rajah. She is MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC, where the temple and columbarium are located.
Also present was a delegation of 634 Buddhist monks from Asia, Europe and America, who are meeting in Singapore as part of the anniversary celebration and for a monks' conference, Venerable Chao Khun Rian told The Straits Times.
"The temple is older than (the nation) of Singapore, so it is a big milestone for us to celebrate this occasion," said the temple's honorary secretary.
The temple has sought to keep up with the times. In 2014, it completed a $6 million five-storey extension, which houses its cultural centre and shrine. The distinctive V-shaped building has been shortlisted for several architectural awards.
The temple also completed its 100th year anniversary pavilion, featuring a rose quartz statue of the deity Guanyin.
Asked if the Thai Buddhist temple has remained relevant to young people, Mr Lim said he believes so, as most of the 200-odd volunteers are young, while he is the oldest.
"We also have programmes and a youth circle for the younger folk," he added.
The Wat Ananda Youth, established in 1966, is the first Buddhist youth circle here.
Many devotees and volunteers also come from the Thai community in Singapore, he said.
The temple also gives back to the youth community - it donated some $100,000 in scholarships to 10 primary and secondary schools at the lunch.
Twenty wheelchairs were also donated to the Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital.