From India the country of its origin, Buddhism spread to various parts of the world. Being a simple philosophy, it was widely accepted and gradually became the fourth most followed religion in the world. South Asian countries including Singapore count among the most Buddhist populated nations where Buddhism has beautifully mingled with their local culture. Owing to its simple approach to life, Buddhism in Singapore is the most practiced religion. If we go by the current stats then 33.90% of Singapore population constitutes of Buddhists. Read on to know more about Buddhism in Singapore.

History of Buddhism in Singapore

Buddhism found its roots in the island country in the late 18th century when the British occupied Singapore. The then colony and the trading post became home to migrant workers and traders from Southeast Asia, mainly China, Thailand, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), and other countries that practiced Buddhism. These people brought their religion with them and spread Buddhism in the country. Also with Singapore’s flourishing reputation, the country began welcoming Buddhist monks who came to spread the word of the Buddha. Buddha’s teachings touched the population and they embraced the religion with open arms. Now, Buddhism is a prime religion in the country.

The practice of Buddhism in Singapore

Buddhism in Singapore has been flourishing with each day. Here, people admire Buddha and his teachings. Buddhist temples, festivals, traditions, and practices keep the way of Buddha alive. All three major Buddhist forms, Mahayana, Theravada, and Vajrayana are practiced in the country. Though different, the three forms are well represented here. Vesak day (the birth, Enlightenment, and the Parinirvana of Lord Buddha) is celebrated by these three sects together. They decorate the Buddhist temples with flowers and lights, hoist the Buddhist flag, bathe the statue of the infant Lord Buddha, perform good deeds and attend the evening candle-lit procession.

The most practiced forms of Buddhism in Singapore are the Theravada and Vajrayana Buddhism. Theravada Buddhism originated in Sri Lanka and mainland Southeast Asia was brought to the island country by Sinhalese traders and migrant laborers. Vajrayana Buddhism known as Tibetan Buddhism is another major practice. It is believed that this form was practiced by the Buddha and is the purest form of Buddhism. In the island country, there are no regional rituals, in fact, all Buddhist practices are respected. In fact, it is not uncommon that many Singaporeans practice all Buddhist beliefs of all three forms.


Present-day Synopsis


Singapore accepts all the major schools and traditions of Buddhism (including Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Taiwanese, etc.). The Buddhist community in the country is a thriving one. The community supports a number of Buddhist temples, organizations, welfare associations, libraries, hospitals, services, etc. The prominent Singapore Buddhist Federation represents all the three forms in Singapore. Also, a number of Buddhist festivals and events are celebrated in Singapore throughout the year. Many other activities to connect with Buddhism are the Dharma talks, meditation retreats, musicals, conferences, festivals, and more. But, most of all Buddhists in Singapore adhere to the preachings of the Buddha by helping the needy and performing good deeds. The cosmopolitan culture of the country has led to the blossoming of Buddhism in Singapore. Its philosophy has beautifully interwoven with the local life here.

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