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A void deck altar

Spotted this interesting feature at the ground floor void deck of 1 Telok Blangah Crescent, an ageing block of flats which was completed in 1983.

It is a void deck altar, maintained by the residents of the block.

The altar has a good mix of Taoist and Buddhist deities, as expected of a ritual space for Chinese vernacular religion.

Standing on the left is a Laughing Buddha, a popular representation of Maitreya, the Future Buddha.

For the upper level of the altar, the chief deity looks like Guan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy in Buddhism.

To her left looks to be Sun Wukong, the Monkey God from Journey to the West, also known as The Great Sage, Heaven’s Equal (Qi Tian Da Sheng).

I have difficulty making out the other deities on the upper level, partly because they have been blackened by years, possibly decades of soot. But my guess for at least one of the bearded deities would be Guan Di, the deified form of Guan Yu, the famous general from Romance of the Three Kingdoms.

For the lower level, the central tablet is dedicated to the Earth Deity of the area. The figure on the left is the God of Fortune (Cai Shen), while the figure on the right is Ksitigarbha (Di Zang), the Buddhist figure of salvation and mercy for the netherworld.

It is possible that when villagers were resettled to this block after its completion in 1983, they moved their village deities to this altar.

I wonder how many more void deck altars exist in the heartlands of Singapore. They are a unique feature of vernacular culture and tradition in a highly-urbanised environment.


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