I never knew of the existence of Putuo Village until my friend, CY, who is an avid amateur photographer, asked if I was interested to make a photo trip there. Although I would have preferred to sleep in on a Saturday, curiosity got the better of me and I was up and all ready to go at 6:30 the next morning. We had planned to arrive at Putuo Village by 8 o’clock before it got too hot.
Putuo Village is a huge park spanning more than 40 acres that juxtaposes Buddhism with nature, leisure and charity. At the start of the shaded tree-lined road is a sanctuary for the elderly, followed by a huge forest of bamboo and finally, the main temple at the furthest end of the park.
Our first stop was at the Bamboo Forest where we were joined by three other friends. The whole place was quiet and serene except for the natural whispers coming from inside the forest. The cool, early morning air and soothing greenery threw worries to the wind and brought about a feeling of well-being and peace. I was excited to find out what waited behind the tall bamboo canopies. There were stone lions along the pathway to safeguard the premises, as well as Buddha statues to welcome and receive visitors into Nature’s realm. It looked like a good getaway for prayers and meditation.
No sooner had we made it past the entrance when we were bitten by mosquitoes. Although I was in a long-sleeved ‘T’ and jeans, it did not deter the mozzies from biting my face, neck and hands. I couldn’t even put my finger on the camera’s shutter without getting bitten on the finger tips! Some of these depraved critters even had the audacity to bite through the sleeves of my shirt. The five of us must have looked quite funny – clapping our hands wildly in the air, slapping our faces and scratching ourselves as we made our way into the forest.
I really enjoyed walking in the Bamboo Forest and would have stayed longer if not for the pesky mosquitoes. For those who are thinking of visiting this place, applying insect repellent beforehand is an absolute must! To prevent any further blood loss, we decided to leave the place and drive to the main temple – the Guanyin Pavilion.
The Guanyin Pavilion
The concept of prayer wheels originated from Tibetan Buddhism. Traditionally, the mantra Om Mani Padme Hum is written in Sanskrit on the outside of the wheel. Each wheel is filled with thousands of mani mantras. Spinning the wheel clockwise is believed to have the equivalent effect of reciting the prayers orally. When this ritual is carried out from the heart with sincerity, humility and repentance, the following merits can be derived:-
- Clears the mind, grows concentration and heals the spirit
- Absorbs positive energy for radiant, glowing skin
- Eliminates the 3 Poisons of Greed, Anger and Ignorance
- Enhances the aura, protects from diseases
- Prevents negative influences from taking over and doing harm
- Enhances learning and develops wisdom
- Gets rid of bad karma that inhibits the attainment of goals
- Saves the deceased from falling into lower realms
The Wishing Tree is a major attraction in Putuo Village generating faith, inspiration and hope for its followers.
Devotees as well as tourists come all the way to write down their wishes and cast it up the tree. According to belief, the higher the wishes are hung, the more likely the wishes will be fulfilled.
The Guanyin Hall