Saturday, 28 January 2012

The Sacred Tree

Blocks- Changi
Roger Smith 2012
View a larger version here
This image is based on the large concrete blocks that are used as crane counterweights in Singapore. It could have been taken on almost any building site in the country but in this case it was out at Changi; on the site of the ill-fated UNSW Asia campus.

Within two months of the original photograph being taken the plug was pulled on the project. The same piece of ground was reclaimed by the government who had plans to build Singapore's fifth university on it.

Recent news reports suggest that they too will not proceed on the site.

There is an interesting aside related to this story. On the same site stood a tree that was believed by many of the local Malay population to be sacred. Offerings were frequently laid at its base to appease various deities. Not surprisingly people for the area were concerned for the tree's fate and assurance were made that it would be revered and kept safe.

Shortly after ground works commenced for the new campus, it was inadvertently knocked over by a contractor. Not a good omen and so it proved to be.

The Sacred Tree
Roger Smith 2007
Mind you, this is not the only spiritual site I came across during my time in Singapore. The practice of venerating certain places was widely practiced in earlier times and still continues in some places.

Each day I passed a clump of trees and bamboos adjacent to the food court in Commonwealth Avenue, by the Queenstown MRT. Inside this clump there was a largish open space in which a red oil lantern could be seen shining along with other small offerings.

Adjacent to the Queenstown MRT overpass on Commonwealth Avenue
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