After the massive occasion of the 52nd Tzu Chi Anniversary cum Buddha Day Celebration held at Bedok Stadium on 13th May 2018, several mini Buddha Bathing ceremonies were held at the homes of Tzu Chi’s aid recipients around Singapore. Volunteers from each zone brought a lucite Buddha statue to the homes of sick or physically challenged aid recipients to allow them and their family to take part in the ceremony. The Buddha Bathing ritual allowed the devotees to pray to the Buddha for blessings as well as to express their gratitude and appreciation to the Buddha, parents, and all living beings.
It took the volunteers less than 10 minutes to set up a simple yet solemn Buddha Bathing altar, thanks to their seamless cooperation and team work.
Prior to the commencement of each ceremony, the emcee would explain to the aid recipient and his/her family its purpose and significance: to gather kind thoughts, to pray for the purification of body and soul, and to make a vow to repay the kindness of the Buddha, parents and all living beings through acts of compassion. The emcee also explained and demonstrated the three simple steps of the Buddha Bathing ritual.
When the song, “Praise the Buddha”, was played, aid recipient Mr. Yee piously sang the song with the volunteers. This was the second year that the mini Buddha Bathing ceremony was held in his home.
In 2016, Mr. Yee was diagnosed with kidney failure, which required him to undergo ongoing dialysis. Tzu Chi covered part of the cost of his dialysis treatments while he waited for medical assistance from the National Kidney Foundation (NKF). After his case was taken over by the NKF, the volunteers continued to visit him monthly to give him transport allowances (provided by Tzu Chi), showing him care and support at the same time.
Another aid beneficiary who had a Buddha Bathing ceremony held in her home was 82-year-old Grandma Lim, who is suffering from dementia and has weak legs. Tzu Chi volunteer Beh Keng Hua told Grandma Lim that not only had she formed an affinity with the Buddha through the ceremony, she had also bonded with the volunteers, who were all her “grandchildren”. The elderly lady’s face broke into a wide smile upon hearing that.
“I thank Tzu Chi for helping my mother, and I’m also thankful for the opportunity to take part in this solemn Buddha Bathing ceremony,” said Grandma Lim’s son, Mr. Khoo.
In order to look after his mother, Mr. Khoo is unable to go to work, and would thus feel troubled and unhappy at times. After receiving care and support from the volunteers, he felt much better and was able to open up his heart.
We can go through any hurdles in life as long as we stay united
“There are people who are suffering more than me in this world,” said Mr. Ng, who is physically challenged. He managed to complete the Buddha Bathing ritual with the assistance of his wife and Tzu Chi volunteers.
Mr. Ng, who was formerly the bread winner of the family, lives with his wife and two daughters. After he was struck by stroke unexpectedly, his family lost their financial pillar and fell into dire straits. The stroke affects his mobility and speech ability; he became bedridden and wheelchair-bound, and thus requires continual nursing care from his family. Despite their hardships, all the members of the family stay intact and united to overcome the challenges together.
“My daughters and I are small framed; looking after him and supporting him while he does rehabilitation exercises require a lot of physical strength. Many a times we ended up having body aches and feeling stressed out,” confessed Mrs. Ng.
She further added that sometimes her husband would even throw tantrums and behave uncooperatively when he was having physiotherapy, but they still stood by him and supported him patiently.
A Tzu Chi volunteer gave Mrs. Ng a bouquet of carnations and a cup of hot tea to be served to her elderly mother, who had come all the way from Sandakan, Malaysia, to Singapore for a short stay. Mrs. Ng shared that she hasn’t got the time to look after her own mother because she is already occupied with taking care of her husband and daughters; and it was her mother who was worried about her.
Mrs. Ng thanked the volunteers for their care and support, on top of the financial assistance provided by Tzu Chi. She values the monthly home visits by the volunteers as they have provided her with much needed mental and emotional support. When she was at the bottom pit of life, the care and support from Tzu Chi volunteers truly warmed her heart and made her feel that she was not alone.
Mr. Ng’s conditions have improved day by day, and now he no longer needs to be tube fed. He is also able to stand upright with the help of an armrest. This is testimony that there is nothing a family cannot overcome as long as all the members stay united.
When the Tzu Chi song, “Our Earnest Prayers”, was played during the Buddha Bathing ceremony, Mrs. Ng put her palms together as she prayed for the health and wellbeing of her family. Her biggest wish was that her husband would fully recover from his illness.
Through ongoing interactions and visits, Tzu Chi volunteers have established close bonds with the families of the aid recipients. Each ceremony came to a joyous end, with the aid recipient and his/her family posing for a group photo together with the visiting volunteers.