Scents & Sensibility
18 August 2018 - As Taoists and Chinese in Singapore embraced and enlivened the Hungry Ghost Month, most others braced for a month filled with smoke, dust and litter.
The panel – Mr S Ramesh (Hindu), Ustaz Fathurrahman Dawoed (Islam) and Master Shiu Lixin (Taoist) discussed the senses and spirituality of incense burning and offerings across communities and the speakers’ respective faiths. The frank yet friendly floor discussion was moderated by Senior Minister of State Dr Maliki Osman.
Despite being incensed by the burning matter, incense is commonly used in most religions as an act of prayer and a form of purification. The session also emphasised on how the uses of smoke also extend beyond religion – to language, food, entertainment, everyday habits, mystical and medical practices.
In his keynote closing, Dr Maliki shared, "Being in the midst of the 7th Month, the topic on Holy Smoke! is an essential one to discuss. We need to be conscious in the way we perceive the practices of believers from other religions. Concurrently, believers of a specific faith need to be conscious of practicing their faith responsibly such that everyone can mutually respect each other, with the common spirit to mature together as a cohesive society - one that is resilient to withstand and recover against any damage or mayhem to our social fabric."
The dialogue was attended by ambassadors and diplomats from Germany, Canada and Indonesia, who sat within the ranks of interfaith leaders and activists; senior civil servants and private sector professionals, academicians and students.