It is not uncommon to see a devotee from the Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple along Waterloo Street walk two doors down to the neighbouring Sri Krishnan Temple to offer prayers.
In the Bugis precinct, temples, churches, a mosque and a synagogue are within a stone’s throw of one another. These houses of worship stand as testaments to the diverse communities who lived, worked and played side by side around Queen, Waterloo and Bencoolen Streets in Singapore’s Bras Basah.
The National Heritage Board has launched a new programme titled Harmony Walks, a series of free guided walks for the public. They will cover three selected areas of historical significance, and allow attendees to learn more about the commonalities shared by diverse communities in the areas of religion, culture and built heritage in Singapore.
“Through Harmony Walks, we hope to contribute to ongoing efforts to build and boost trust amongst different communities, and encourage Singaporeans to embrace racial and religious diversity," said Alvin Tan, Deputy Chief Executive (Policy & Community) of NHB.
The first of the three walks is Harmony Walks: Queen, Waterloo and Bencoolen Streets. It will cover a total of seven religious institutions – Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple, Sri Krishnan Temple, Maghain Aboth Synagogue, Cathedral of the Good Shepherd, Church of Saints Peter and Paul, Kum Yan Methodist Church and Masjid Bencoolen.
The three strees were originally part of a European quarter according to the Raffles Town Plan, which was published in 1828. However, by the mid-1800s, significant numbers of Eurasians, Chinese, Indians, Jews, Malays, and other communities had settled in the area, bringing with them their respective religions and cultural practices.
These communities engaged with and embraced one another, and continue to do so to this day, establishing a brand of cultural and religious harmony that is integral to Singapore and its people.
Each guided walk lasts two hours, and they will be held weekly from November 23, 2019 to March 31, 2020. Interested participants can register here.
Two subsequent trails at Telok Ayer and South Bridge Road will be rolled out progressively in 2020.