Buddhism Around The World


Buddhism in Singapore


Located at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, Singapore is the largest port city in Southeast Asia and one of the busiest in the world. It owes its growth and prosperity to its position at the southern extremity of the peninsula, where it dominates the Strait of Malacca, which connects the Indian Ocean to the South China Sea.

Singapore is characterised by a wide variety of religious beliefs and practices due to its diverse ethnic mix of people originating from various parts of the world. A secular state, Singapore is commonly termed as a "melting pot" of various religious practices originating from different religious denominations around the world. Given the historic status of Singapore as a British trade port and colonial state, as well as a brief period of Japanese colonial rule during World War II, over the centuries a variety of Buddhist lineages from across the globe has appeared gradually on the island.

History of Buddhism

There are many different Buddhist traditions including Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana (or Tantrayana) coexisting and interacting with one another presently in Singapore. Buddhism, as practiced in Singapore was primarily brought by the Indian traders and later came from a number of countries such as China, Japan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, and Tibet. The diverse origins of Buddhism in Singapore contribute to the existence of various sects ranging from the Pure Land (Jingtu 净土) and Zen (Chan 禅) of the Mahayana to the Gelug and Nyingma of the Vajrayana.

The most followed religion in Singapore is Buddhism, a plurality with 31.1% of the resident population declaring themselves as adherents at the most recent decennial census in 2020. A large number of Buddhists in Singapore are Chinese, with 40.4% of the ethnic Chinese population in Singapore declaring themselves to be one. There are also sizeable numbers of non-Chinese ethnic groups in Singapore that practice Buddhism

Buddhist Sects

Various sects of Buddhism are practiced in Singapore, reflecting the diversity of its Buddhist community. Mahayana, Theravada, and Vajrayana are among the prominent sects, each offering unique teachings and practices to its followers.


Buddhist festivals are celebrated with enthusiasm and reverence in Singapore, providing opportunities for spiritual reflection and communal bonding. There are many Buddhists themed events in Singapore throughout the year but the biggest Buddhist celebrations is the Vesak Day celebration. Vesak Day - commemorates the birth, enlightenment, and Parinirvana (passing away) of the Buddha. Other festivals include Chinese New Year, Qing Ming, and Dharma Day.


Buddhist scriptures play a central role in guiding the spiritual lives of Singaporean Buddhists. The Tripitaka, Mahayana sutras, and Tibetan Buddhist texts are studied and revered by monks and practitioners alike, serving as sources of wisdom and inspiration.

Famous Temples and Monasteries

Singapore hosts monasteries and Dharma centres from all three major traditions of Buddhism: Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana

Singapore is home to several beautiful Buddhist temples and monasteries, each with its unique architectural style and spiritual significance. Following are some of the prominent temples:

  1. The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple in Chinatown

    This five-storey temple is famed worldwide for storing what is supposedly the left canine tooth of Lord Buddha, recovered from his funeral pyre in Kushinagar, India. It is also a home to the Eminent Sangha Museum which is essentially a theatre holding religious talks, cultural performances and relevant screenings.

  1. Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery in Bishan

    it is the largest Buddhist temple of Singapore, sitting on 75,470 square meters of land. The monastery is famed for housing one of Asia's largest Buddhist statues,

  1. The Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple (Temple of 1,000 Lights)

    Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple is a Buddhist monastery situated at Singapore' Little India. Known for housing one of the tallest Buddha statues, it is also popular as the "Temple of Thousand Lights". The 15 feet high statue and the architecture of the temple are known to be influenced by Thai, Indian, and Chinese styles. Built in 1972 by a Thai monk named Venerable Vutthisara, the Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple is home to several relics and intricacies.

  1. Wat Ananda Metyarama Thai Buddhist Temple

    Built in the 1920s, Wat Ananda Metyarama Thai Buddhist temple is one of Singapore's oldest Theravada temples. The stunning mural depicting the major landmarks of the city and the spiritual aura of the temple are the major highlights.

  1. Maha Sasanaramsi Burmese Buddhist Temple Singapore

    The Burmese Buddhist Temple (BBT) was founded by a Burmese man named U Thar Hnin, also known as Tang Sooay Chin in 1875 It is one of the most popular among the myriad of Buddhist temples in Singapore, located in 14, Tai Gin Road, Singapore. The temple organises talks and classes on Buddhism. This place of worship is the oldest Theravada institution and the sole Burmese Buddhist Temple with traditional Burmese architecture in Singapore.

  1. Thian Hock Keng Temple

    This temple is Chinatown's oldest and most important Hokkien temple, translating into a 'Palace of Heavenly Happiness. Also known as Tianfu Temple, it was built for the worship of Mazu, a Chinese sea Goddess. Built between 1839 and 1842, the Thian Hock Keng Temple was a favourite landing point for Chinese traders and sailors.

  1. Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple

    This temple is one of Singapore's major Buddhist temples, located at the Waterloo Street. It is dedicated to Kuan Yin or Avalokitesvara, the Goddess of Compassion.

  1. Kuan Im Tng Temple

    The founder of the Kuan Im Tng Temple was Master Lee Nan Shan. The majestic Kuan Im Tng Temple has a unique architectural style which sets it apart from other places of worship.

  1. Leong San See Temple

    Leong San See Temple is a Buddhist place of worship located in Little India. First built in 1926, this shrine is dedicated to Guan Yin or Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, the Taoist Goddess of Mercy. It was built by Reverend Chun Wu in the early twentieth century, and was initially called 'Leong San Lodge.'

  1. Foo Hai Ch'an Monastery in Geylang

    Foo Hai Ch'an Monastery is known for the statue of Boddhisattva Guanyin. A melange of Dharmic faith and Chinese architecture, the monastery complex also houses five-storey pagoda, the top floor of which houses relics belonging to the Buddha.

Present Status

Buddhism today in Singapore is vibrant with the major schools and traditions being represented and followed in Singapore. Singaporeans are generally open and respectful to all Buddhist traditions (including Japanese Buddhism, Korean Buddhism, Vietnamese Buddhism, Taiwanese Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism and so on). It is not uncommon for the same Buddhist to attend talks and participate religious practices in all three traditions.

Today, there are hundreds of Buddhist temples, societies, organisations and also firms providing Buddhist related activities/services. Together they serve the spiritual needs of the local Buddhist community and also provide social support to the wider community in Singapore and the world. There are various schools, welfare associations, nursing homes, family/community services centres, libraries and even a hospital established and supported by the Buddhist community.

The Buddhist community in Singapore has contributed much to the Singapore society. One example is the Buddhist Free Clinic. The Buddhist Free Clinic has multiple outlets across Singapore, providing free healthcare services to the public, regardless of the patients' ethnicity or belief. This demonstrates how Buddhism is part of the religious fabric in Singapore and how multiple faiths in Singapore get along with one another.

In year 1970s and 80s when Singapore was looking to a new moral education program that would create the 'Ideal Singaporean', religion was considered as an important element in facilitating this process with emphasis on moral and ethical values that are essential to produce the right type of citizenry in the process of nation building. Religion was incorporated into school curriculum and taught as part of the moral education program. The aim of the state was to ensure a population with positive attitude towards the family, the job and the state. It also aims to create individuals who are disciplined, productive, courteous in conduct, robust and rugged in physical health, that of welfare for others, respect for law and countrymen to define the nation.

Government-Recognised Organisations

  1. The Singapore Buddhist Federation (SBF)

    SBF is the main umbrella organisation recognised by the government, representing various Buddhist traditions and groups in Singapore. The SBF plays a crucial role in promoting Buddhist teachings, fostering interfaith dialogue, and coordinating religious activities within the Buddhist community.

  2. Singapore Buddhist Welfare Services (SBWS)

    SBWS was registered with the Registry of Societies on 27 May 1981 and with the Charities Branch on 8 May 1991. SBWS is a full member of the National Council of Social Service (NCSS), as well as works closely with the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), Ministry of Health (MOH), Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises (SCORE).

    For more info. Visit https://sbws.org.sg/en/home/

  3. Metta Welfare Association (Metta)

    It was founded in 1992 by Venerable Chao Khun Fa Zhao. Registered as a society in 1994, Metta is presently endorsed by the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), Ministry of Health (MOH) and Ministry of Education (MOE). It is also a member of the National Council of Social Service (NCSS), Singapore Hospice Council and Singapore Disability Sports Council.

    For more info. Visit https://www.metta.org.sg/

Buddhist Monastic Institutions and Dhamma Centres

Singapore is home to several Buddhist monastic institutions and Dhamma Centres. Some of them are mentioned below:

  1. Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery (KMSPKS)

    It was founded in 1921 by Venerable Sik Zhuan Dao as a place for Buddhist practice, to share the Dhamma and to provide lodging for monks. One of the largest and most established Buddhist monasteries in Singapore. It offers monastic training, Dharma classes, and various Buddhist ceremonies and events.

Affiliation: Mahayana Buddhism

Website: kmspks.org

  1. Poh Ern Shih Temple

    Description: A modern Buddhist temple that emphasizes eco-friendly practices. It offers monastic training and various Buddhist activities.

    Affiliation: Mahayana Buddhism

    Website: https://www.pohernshih.sg/

  1. Tzu Chi Singapore

    It is a part of the international Tzu Chi Foundation, this institution focuses on humanitarian work and education, alongside promoting Buddhist teachings and practices.

    Affiliation: Mahayana Buddhism

    Website: tzuchi.org.sg

  1. Burmese Buddhist Temple (BBT)

    This was founded in 1875 by a Burmese gentleman U Thar Hnin. Known for its traditional Burmese architecture, it offers monastic training and serves as a religious center for the Burmese Buddhist community in Singapore.

    Affiliation: Theravada Buddhism

    Website: https://www.bbt.org.sg/

  1. Palelai Buddhist Temple

    The name "Palelai," was derived from the Pāli word "Pārileyakka," which was the name of a forest in India during the time of Lord Buddha. Founded in 1962, it aims to be a sanctuary for the teaching, practice and propagation of the Theravada tradition of the Lord Buddha's Dhamma-Vinaya (the doctrine and discipline). A prominent Theravada Buddhist temple offering monastic training, meditation classes, and various Buddhist activities.

    Affiliation: Theravada Buddhism

    Website: https://palelaibuddhisttemple.org/

  2. Singapore Sinhala Buddhist Association (SSBA)

    The SSBA is a prominent organization serving the Sri Lankan Buddhist community in Singapore. The center offers Dhamma talks, meditation sessions, Pali chanting, and cultural activities. It also celebrates major Buddhist festivals like Vesak and Poson.

  1. Sri Lankaramaya Buddhist Temple

    The Sri Lankaramaya Buddhist Temple also known as St Michael Buddhist Temple is located at St. Michael's Road in Bendemeer, Singapore. This temple serves as a key religious and cultural hub for the Sri Lankan community in Singapore. It is one of the Theravada Buddhist temples in Singapore and is operated by the Singapore Sinhala Buddhist Association which was established in 1920. Lankaramaya offers regular Dhamma teachings, meditation sessions, and Poya day observances. The temple also hosts cultural and educational events.

  2. Mahakaruna Buddhist Society

  3. The Buddhist Union (Thai Buddhist Division)

Although it serves a broader Buddhist community, Mahakaruna has strong connections with Sri Lankan Buddhism. The society conducts Dhamma talks, meditation retreats, and various Buddhist ceremonies, often featuring Sri Lankan monks.

A division of The Buddhist Union that specifically caters to Thai Buddhist practices and traditions. This division organizes regular Dhamma classes, meditation sessions, and religious ceremonies led by Thai monks.

  1. Bodhiraja Buddhist Society

    The Bodhiraja Buddhist Society was formed in 1998 to facilitate the practice of Buddhism and the teaching of Dhamma for the devotees and active supporters of the Foundation in Singapore. It is based in Embilipilitya, the hometown of founder Ven Sobhita Thero. The Foundation started out with the main task of addressing the difficulties faced by people living in the area, and to improve their lives through a diverse range of religious and social programmes.

    For more info. visit http://www.storengine.com/Communities/Bodhiraja.org/bodhiraja_buddhist_society.htm

  2. Fu Hui Buddhist Cultural Centre (FHBCC)

  3. Tibetan Buddhist Centre (TBC)

  4. Amitabha Buddhist Centre

It was registered as a society in 1987. The centre promotes and encourages moral education based on Buddhism, community welfare services, charitable and healthy recreation. The vision of this centre is to create a community of individuals with righteous minds and leading righteous lives.

For more info. visit https://fhbcc.org.sg/en/home-1/

TBC is a legally registered Buddhist Cultural Centre in Singapore in promoting non-sectarian approach to understanding Tibetan Buddhism, Culture, History and Traditions. Their objective is to propagate Dharma teaching and uphold the unity, harmony and understanding amongst all the different sects of Buddhism.

For more info. visit https://www.tibetanbc.org/

It has been established as a non-profit Buddhist organisation in Singapore since 1989. It is associated with the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT), an international Buddhist organisation headquartered in the United States. The vision of ABC is to help all beings live life meaningfully through the Dharma inspires our goals and activities that encompass education, prayer and community service.

For more info. visit https://www.fpmtabc.org/index.php

  1. Karma Kagyud Buddhist Centre

    A center affiliated with the Karma Kagyu lineage, one of the major schools of Tibetan Buddhism. It was established in 1981 by His Holiness the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa to realise the precious teachings of Buddha in Singapore. Since then, through various programmes like classes, meditation, teachings, practices and many more, the Centre has benefited many people.

    Website: https://www.karma-kagyud.org.sg/

  2. Pu Ji Si Buddhist Research Centre

    The centre foucuses on Buddhist education and research. It Conducts classes on Buddhist teachings, meditation sessions, and publishes Buddhist literature. The center also organizes seminars and workshops.

    Website: http://www.pujisi.org.sg/

  1. Fo Guang Shan (Singapore)

    It is a part of the international Fo Guang Shan Buddhist organization based in Taiwan, focusing on Humanistic Buddhism. Provides Dhamma teachings, meditation classes, and community service projects. The temple also celebrates traditional Chinese Buddhist festivals.

  2. Singapore Myanmar Buddhist Association (SMBA)

    An organization that promotes the practice and understanding of Burmese Buddhism in Singapore. Conducts Dhamma talks, meditation retreats, and cultural events. The association also celebrates traditional Burmese Buddhist festivals.

Buddhist Institutions in Singapore

  1. Buddhist and Pali College

    The Buddhist and Pali College of Singapore was set up in 1993 as another educational project, other than the Sunday Dhamma Classes, launched under the able guidance and patronage of late Venerable M M Mahaweera Maha Nayaka Thero. The college caters to the religious and educational needs of Singaporeans who eagerly seek ways to widen the horizon of their knowledge of Buddhism. Its mission is to provide tertiary education in Buddhist Studies leading to award Diploma, BA, MA of the Buddhist & Pali University of Sri Lanka and Ph. D.

    Website: https://mv.sg/group/buddhist-and-pali-college/

  2. Buddhist College of Singapore

    It was formally established in 2005. Its mission is to specialize in Chinese Buddhism, respect other lineages and promote inter-religious harmony. This is achieved through conducting a brief study of the various Buddhist schools. It currently offers 2 levels of programmes: Bachelor and Master degree in Buddhist Studies conducted in English and Mandarin. Its teaching philosophy is based on adherence to the tenets of Chinese Buddhism and respect for unity in harmony. Although the curriculum specialises in Chinese Buddhism, the teachings of other lineages are incorporated.

    Website: https://www.bcs.edu.sg/

  3. Buddhist Library Singapore (BL)

    Buddhist Library has grown to become more than just a specialised library. It is also a place where all those who are interested in Buddhist practice can come to study, meditate, and learn to apply traditional Buddhist values to contemporary needs. The BL first started conducting courses in the basic doctrines of Buddhism and then graduated to providing more advanced courses, both of which have helped to extend the horizon of Dhamma knowledge of those who are interested in learning Buddhism. It offers a range of courses in Buddhism, including Pali and Sanskrit language courses, and Buddhist philosophy.

    Website: https://buddhlib.org.sg/