From ground breaking to grand opening of Bouddha Dharmapithamu

Preamble

The date November 19th 2017 marked a historical milestone in the revival and spread of Buddhism in Southern India where a Buddhist Centre, Bouddha Dharmapithamu at Undrajavaram, West Godavari District, Andhra Pradesh was completed after three and the half years of laborious work in its construction.

The construction of the Bouddha Dharmapithamu kick started with the foundation stone-laying ceremony on May 24th 2015 witnessed by many local and foreign monks, nuns, dignitaries and guests on this noble and auspicious event.

In order to maximise optimal usage of the Bouddha Dharmapithamu a soft opening ceremony was held on January 16th 2016 when the building was partially completed with two stories ready for occupancy. Six samanaras were adopted to provide linage to keep Buddhism alive in the Southern India vide this Centre. Today it has a total of thirteen samanaras.

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The thirteen samanaras on campaign trail for the opening ceremony of the Centre.

The cumulation of the preceding events climaxed with the grand opening of the Bouddha Dharamapithamu, which incidentally is also the tallest building in the vicinity, serves as a beacon in the propagation of Buddhism in this region of the country.
It also serves as a resource centre for research and academic pursuits for scholars. Ironically, Buddhism originated in India some 2500 years ago had somewhat evaporated for the country of birth but flourished in many nations overseas. It is indeed a noble cause that could not come at a more opportune time for the establishment of the Centre for the revival of Buddhism.

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Archway of glistering lights leading to the Boduddha Dharamapithaum for its grand opening ceremony.

The Visitors

The main group from Singapore departed on November 17th 2017 comprised of nineteen personal viz: four sangha members and fifteen devotees and well-wishers graced the occasion. Ajahn Keng, Bhante Cakkapala, Bhante Dhammajothy and Bhikkku Lee were among the entourage by invitation.

The complete group of devotees and well-wishers from Singapore were Catherine Wong, Chin Kee Thou, Christine Chew, Cynthia Tan, Doris Yip, Fiona Liu, Goh Swee Pheng, Hing Seng Huat, Lim Hock Kee, Lim Soo Huang, Maggie Tai, Raymond Yow, Sue Simon, Susan Yap, Susie Lee, Tham Chee Keong, Upekkha Chin, Yong Wee Siong and Zhang Yuxian.

The list of the sangha who spells who and who were:

Ajahn Keng from Singapore; Bhante Cakkapala from Myanmar; Bhante Dhammajoti from Sri Lanka; Bhante Khemacara from India; Bhante Kusalananda from Sri Lanka; Bhante Rathanajoti from Sri Lanka; Bhante Saddhananda from Sri Lanka; Bhikkhu Lee from Malaysia; Bhikkhuni Dhammacarini and Bhikkhuni Thitacarini from Indonesia; Bhikkhuni Nguyen Thi Truc Ly from Vietnam and Venerable Hsueh Men from Singapore; with about 100 Sangha studying at Nagasena University attended the event.

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Visiting delegation from Singapore.

Advance party

Brothers Raymond Yow, Hing Sing Huat, Goh Swee Pheng and I arrived on November 16th assisted and oversaw the preparation for this grandiose event working in collaboration with the working committee under the charge of Bhante Analayo. Brother Raymond the team leader with a game plan conferred with him on the ritual and ceremonial aspects like sitting position of the sangha on stage for the sanghika dana, procedure for offerings to the Buddha like water, light and fruits by selected lady devotees and selection of monks for delivering of speech. A rehearsal was held to ensure proper and timely execution of the tasks.

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Raymond Yow and Hing conferred with Bhante Analayo the game plan with members of the local working committee ….

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… and execution of the game plan with the contractor.

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Briefing and rehearsal for lady devotees for presentation of offerings to the Buddha

A large turnout

An estimated turnout of about 5000 well-wishers and visitors was envisaged, called for set up of a large tentage and marquee pitched on the vacant land adjacent to the Centre to accommodate the congregation together with a stage for sanghika dana for 47 monks and nuns.

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A large teenage pitched outside the Centre that held a crowd of 5000 …

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… and a stage for 47 monks and nuns for sanghika dana.

Campaign trails

The preceding two days to the grandiose event were campaign trails by monks, nuns and samanaras, led by a bajaj (Indian three wheel tricycle) decorated with banner on each side pitched with two loudhailers on its roof, blasted away and broadcasted the event as they meandered through selected route of roads, allays and lanes to the villagers and residents within the vicinity of the Centre which is about five kilometres in radius.

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Bajaj decorated with banner on each side led the way in the campaign trails pitched with two loudhailers on its roof blasted away broadcasts.

The processions with flag bearing supporters distributed flyers to passers-by, cyclists, motorcyclists, shopkeepers, stallholders and even delivered to their homes. The campaign trial listed for about three hours per trip on each day.

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The procession comprised of monks, nuns, samanaras, supporters, well-wishers and flag bearer distributed flyers along the selected route.

Distribution of flyers

Vernacular press

On the eve of the auspicious day the press called upon the host and selected representatives for an interview and the news items were reported in the vernacular press.

Press interview with the host, Bhante Analayo …

… and team leader from the Singapore delegation, Raymond Yow.

Pindapata or Alms round

The grandiose event started at six o’clock in the morning with a procession of sangha order comprised of monks, nuns and samanaras in a single file formation, led by the most senior monk in term of the number of vasa, went for alms round or pindapata, flanked on both sides by devotees and flag bearers dressed in all white travelled along the rehearsed route.

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Sangha order readied for alms round flanked on both sides by devotees in all-white attire awaited for the signal to proceed.

Two set up distribution points

There were two setup distribution points where devotees and well-wishers offered alms or dana to the sangha as they passed by, mindfully dropped them in the alms bowl of each sangha member and samanara. “In giving food, one gives five things. What five? One gives life, beauty, happiness, strength and intelligence. And in giving these things, one partakes in the qualities of life, beauty, happiness, strength intelligence, both here and hereafter.” (A.III,42).

Pindapata

Alms giving in progress.

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“In giving food, one gives five things. What five? One gives life, beauty, happiness, strength and intelligence. And in giving these things, one partakes in the qualities of life, beauty, happiness, strength intelligence, both here and hereafter.” (A.III,42).

The alms-gathers on their way back were welcome by devotees and well-wishers who lined the walkway of the Centre and sprinkled corollas at the feet as they walked pass and then headed to the washing point had their feet washed and dried before headed for the stage set up for the sanghika dana.

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Devotees and well-wishers sprinkled corollas at the feet of the sangha as they walked by …

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: … had their feet washed and dried before going up the stage for sanghika dana.

Grand Opening and Consecration ceremonies

The opening ceremony was initiated by Madam Chitturi Usha Rani of the Hotel Chitturi Heritage symbolically cut the blue ribbon attached across the main gate and declared open the Centre while the crowd watched enthusiastically.

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VIP Madam Chitturi Usha Rani of the Hotel Chitturi Heritage flanked by Raymond (left) and Hing (right) who would officiate the opening of the Centre.

Simultaneously on the fourth-storey the Dhamma Hall with the newly installed five-foot marble image of the Buddha from Mandalay was consecrated by the lighting the oil lamp performed by Ajahn Keng, Bhante Dhammajoti, Bhante Khemacaea and Bhante Rathanajoti.

Dhamma Hall
The consecration of the Dhamma Hall attended by selected local congregators. The entourage from Singapore in full attendance was among them to witness the occasion.

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Full entourage from Singapore among the congregators witnessed the event …

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… with live telecast of the event to the viewers in the tentage in progress.

Commendable speeches were eloquently delivered by the monks in commemoration of the event which was telecasted live on a gigantic led screen to the congregators under the tentage.

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Monks delivered commendable speeches in commemoration of the event.

Conducted tour of the Centre

The newly completed Bouddha Dharmapithamu serves as a beacon in the propagation of Buddhism and a resource centre for research and academic pursuit.

A conducted tour of the Centre was conducted on November 20th for the entourage of the completed building consists of four storeys and a roof garden. The first storey or ground floor (colonial inheritance) is the kitchen, dining hall cum visitor lounge and administrative office.
On the second storey is a small theatre with a wall mount television console, the library and a shrine hall. As the Centre is designated to be a centre of learning and research the collection of books will stage to grow with time to be as comprehensive as possible.

The Library

On the third storey are the guest rooms and dormitory for the samanaras, is a restricted area with a gate which is out of bounds to visitors

The fourth storey is the Dhamma Hall and gallery cum museum.

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Visitors to the gallery cum museum.

What a splendid gift!

The funds for the Centre were contributed by donors from Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia; and Singapore – the main benefactor. It is indeed a noble deed of the incumbents to emulate the great deed of Anăthapindika who purchased Jetavana Grove from Prince Jeta with a handsome price of the number of gold coins that covered the park. A monastery was built upon the land as a gift to Lord Buddha who spent twenty four raining seasons at the Jetavana Monastery. Although the benefactors’ infinitesimal deed paled in comparison to the gift of Anăthapindika, it is still a meritorious deed and even more magnanimous vis-a-vis in wealth.

Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu!

Contributor: Chin Kee Thou
Date: December 4th 2017
Readers are cordially invited to visit The Gallery to view more photos. You may download any photo you desired for keepsake.
Contents, photos and video clip by contributor who takes responsibility for any advertence, factual or otherwise.



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The Mangala Vihara Dhamma Fellowship celebrates Seventh Pindapata Day

The annual pindapata event organised by the Mangala Vihara Dhamma Fellowship (MVDF), deputed in 2013, held its seventh conservative year event that coincided with the Singapore’s 54th National Day on August 9th 2019.

Lineage and practice of the Buddhas

Pindapata, is the practice of collecting alms food, as observed by Theravada Buddhist monks who have gone forth from ‘home life’ to ‘homelessness.’ They go from house to house to receive food adhering faithfully to the tradition and the lineage of the Buddhas, past, present and the future, as Lord Buddha proclaims: “My ancestors are the Buddhas, in successive order of the Buddhavamsa from Dipankara, Kondanna, Mangala down to Kassapa. Beginning with Dipankara and ending with Kassapa, my preceding elder brethren Buddhas, twenty-four in number, and with all the thousands of Buddhas as many as sands of the Ganges, had always gone to each successive house to receive alms. This very practice of receiving alms from one door to the next had always been our means of livelihood.”  (Mahabuddhavamsa).

A Buddhist monk is known in Pali language as ‘bhihkku’ – meaning ‘one who lives on alms’ just like the past, the present or the future alms gathers, living on alms should review himself whether worthy of alms food, like the Buddha teaches Sariputta: ” ….., whatever recluses and brahmans in the past have purified their alms food have all done so by repeatedly reviewing thus. Whatever recluses and brahmans in the future will purify their alms food will also do so by repeatedly reviewing thus. Whatever recluses and brahmans in the present are purifying their alms food are all doing so by repeatedly reviewing thus. Therefore, Sariputta, you should train thus: ‘We will purify our alms food by repeatedly reviewing thus.’ This is how you, Sariputta, must train yourself.” (MN.III,297).

Since the time of the Buddha, lay people have been supporting monks with food, robes, shelter and medicine. In return, monks provide guidance to the laity on Buddhist teachings, thus forging a close, respectful and symbiotic relationship between the two communities. “Bhikkhus, brahmins and householders are very helpful in you. They provide you with the requisites of robes, alms food, lodgings and medicine in time of sickness. And you, bhikkhus are very helpful to the brahmins and householders, as you teach them the Dhamma that is good at the onset, good in the middle, and good at the end, with its correct meaning and wording, and you proclaim the holy life in its fulfilment and complete purity. Thus, bhikkhus, this holy is lived with mutual support for the purpose of crossing the flood and making a complete end of suffering.” (It.8-13).

Why alms gathering at Mangala Vihara (Buddhist Temple) temple ground?

Alms gathering is the means by which Buddhist monks get their food and has been misinterpreted as begging in our local context. A beggar asks or pleads for alms whereas Buddhist monks only present themselves at the door of a potential donor or standing at a spot quietly for a few moments and after receiving something, moves on. The Mahavastu says: “The wise monk asks for nothing, the noble does not hint for their needs. They just stand and let bowls be seen. This is how the noble ones gather alms.”

Since local monks are not encouraged to gather alms outdoor, thus the aim of the MVDF’s annual pindapata day hosted at the Mangala Vihara (Buddhist Temple) is to maintain the Theravada tradition of the ancient practice of alms giving and receiving. It also offers an opportunity for the lay people and the monks to upkeep the practice and reflect upon the true teachings of Buddhism of a meritorious deed.

Monks in attendance

For this year event, we invited 17 brother monks and together with our 2 resident monks who graced the occasion, were:

Bhante Galle Udita residing at Buddha Vihara Society
Bhante T. Sangharatana residing at Buddha Vihara Society
Bhante B. Buddhaghosa residing at Buddha Vihara Society
Bhante Uttara with residing at Burmese Buddhist Temple
Bhante Cittara residing at Mangala Vihara (Buddhist Temple)
Bhante Seewali residing at Hui Yin Lodge
Bhante R. Mettaji residing Buddha Vihara Society
Bhante Nyaninda residing at Burmese Buddhist Temple
Bhante Pannananda residing at Bodhiraja Buddhist Society
Bhante Cakkapala residing at Mangala Vihara Buddhist Temple
Bhante Obhasa residing at Burmese Buddhist Temple
Bhante Dooldeniye Gnanarathana residing at Singapore Buddhist Meditation Centre
Bhante Batagalle Dhammarathana residing at Ruwan Buddhist Society
Bhante Uditha residing at Bodhiraja Buddhist Society
Bhante Gunasiri residing at Bodhiraja Buddhist Society
Bhante Sirisumana residing at Bodhiraja Buddhist Society
Phra CK with residing at Palelai Buddhist Temple
Bhante Sudanto residing Palelai Buddhist Temple
Bhante M. Suneetha a monastic student.

The alms round

The alms round commenced at mid-morning to enable them with ample time to gather alms as monks practise eating only one meal a day, abstaining from eating at night and outside proper time, which is between dawn and noon; and from noon until the next dawn only liquids are allowed.” (DN,1.6 and MN,I.180). Maintaining noble silence the devotees, participants and well-wishers lined up in a single row in two files facing each other and symbolically placed a spoonful of rice, with mindfulness, into the alms bowl of the monks as they walked in a single file, according to the seniority by the number of vassas and not by biological age, as they passed by. Each monk is accompanied by a kappia and received requisites from alms givers.

Each monk is accompanied by a kappia and receives requisite from alms giver.

When one offers alms mindfully to the monks should reflect thus, “He gives what is pure and excellent, allowable drinks and food at the proper time: he gives gifts to fertile fields of merit, to those who lead the spiritual life. He does not feel regret, having given away many material things. Those with deep insight praise the gifts given in this way. Having thus practiced charity with a mind freely generous, one intelligent and wise, rich in faith, is reborn in a pleasant, unafflicted world.”  (AN,8:37).

“He gives what is pure and excellent, allowable drinks and food at the proper time: he gives gifts to fertile fields of merit, to those who lead the spiritual life. He does not feel regret, having given away many material things. Those with deep insight praise the gifts given in this way.”  (AN,8:37).

Similarly, the monks mindfully observed noble silence not to engage in talking or chatting or to endear themselves to the lay followers with the intention of improving their intake during alms rounds, not to ask for anything directly except in an emergency, not to express thanks for donations received, and to receive without establishing eye contact. “Again, a bhikkhus is content with any kind of alms-food, and speaks in praise of contentment with any kind of alms-food and he does engage in a wrong search, in what is improper, for the sake of alms food. If he does not get alms food he is not agitated and if gets some he uses it without being tied to it, infatuated with it, and blindly absorbed in it, seeing the danger in it and understanding the escape from it. Yet he does not extol himself or disparage others because of this. Any bhikkhus who is skilful in this, diligent, clearly comprehending and ever mindful, is said to be standing in an ancient, primal noble lineage.” (AN,II.28). 

“Again, a bhikkhus is content with any kind of alms-food, and speaks in praise of contentment with any kind of alms-food and he does engage in a wrong search, in what is improper, for the sake of alms food.” (AN,II.28)

Morning puja

Once the procession of the monks on alms round had concluded, the formable congregation adjourned to the Shrine Hall for the morning puja and received blessings from the monks. The morning puja session was led by Sister Lee Peng.

A formable congregation adjourned to the Shrine Hall for the morning puja and received blessings from the monks.

After the puja they all descended to the Mangala Hall for the sangkit dana or the meal offering to the sangha sasana. “For those people who bestows alms, for living beings in quest of merit, performing merit of the mundane types, a gift to the Sangha bears great fruits” (SN,11.16).

“For those people who bestows alms, for living beings in quest of merit, performing merit of the mundane types, a gift to the Sangha bears great fruits” (SN,11.16)

Transferring, sharing or dedicating of merits

The devotees gathered round and touched the tables to receive blessing followed by transference or sharing or dedicating of merits to the departed and loved ones along with the chanting by the monks. “By offering alms to the Holy Order in memory of the departed; the true path of action for relatives has thus been shown, and how high honour to departed if done, and how the Holy Order can be given sustenance as well and how ones great merit can be stored away by you.” [Khp.7 (Petavatthu)]

The devotees gathered round the tables and receive blessings … …

… … followed by transference or sharing or dedicating of merits to the departed ones along with the chanting by the monks.

“By offering alms to the Holy Order in memory of the departed; the true path of action for relatives has thus been shown, and how high honour to departed if done, and how the Holy Order can be given sustenance as well and how ones great merit can be stored away by you.” (Khp 7)

Gastronomical delights

Once the monks commenced eating the congregation feasted with delight the food they collectively contributed and shared among themselves. When food is needed to satisfy hunger and sustain the body, “they always take delight in food, both devas and human beings. So what sort of spirit could it be that does not take delight in food?” (SN 1:43). However, they consumed food mindfully in moderation reflecting carefully as “a bhikkhu consumes food neither for amusement nor for intoxication nor for the sake of physical beauty and attractiveness, but only for the support and maintenance of the body, for avoiding harm, and for assisting the spiritual life.”(AN 4:159).

“They always take delight in food, both devas and human beings. So what sort of spirit could it be that does not take delight in food?” (SN 1:43).

Happy and joyful ending

The event ended in a joyful mood for the participants who dana food and requisites for the monks and accumulated merits. “In giving food, one gives five things. What five? One gives life, beauty, happiness, strength and intelligence. And in giving these things, on partakes in the qualities of life, beauty, happiness, strength and intelligence.” (A.III,42).

And for the monks, it offered an opportunity to rekindle the noble practice of alms gathering, albeit in a symbolic way to upkeep an ancient Theravada tradition as practised by the lineage of Budddhas.

Requisites for the monks donated by the devotees, participants and well-wishers.

A milestone for the MVDF

Incidentally the year 2019 also marks a milestone in the history of the MVDF as it reaches the decade mark, not after having going through a gruesome journey and emerges stronger, wiser and more resilience to undertake more grandeur events in the future.

The success and good crowd turnout at the seventh pindapata day is yet another feather in the cap that would encourage the MVDF to make it an annual hallmark event.

Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu!

Contributor: Chin Kee Thou
Date: August 11th 2019.

Content, photos and video clips by contributor who takes responsibility for any inadvertence, factual or otherwise.

You may visit The Photo Gallery for more snapshots and download for your personal use and not for commercial or monetary gain.

N.B. Most sources of citations are available at the MV Library (opening hours every Thursday from 7:00 to 7:30 pm) or visit the (MV eLibrary book) portal to browse, read or download.

Will update with a full video recording of the event when it is ready and available. Do keep a lookout for it.

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A video recording: “What Makes A Sappurisa (Good and Worthy Person)?” by Sister Sylvia Bay

The Mangala Vihara Dhamma Fellowship under its Buddhism in Daily Life programme, organises a series of Dhamma talk and is glad to share the video recording of yet another Dhamma talk delivered on July 15th 2019.

Recording from YouTube with courtesy of Jetavana Dhamma Institute.

The gift of the Dhamma excels all other gifts.

Submitted by: Chin Kee Thou
Date: July 25th 2019.

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Video recording – “Mirage” a Dhamma talk by Sister Sylvia Bay

We bring forth the Dhamma Talk delivered by Sister Sylvia Bay on June 10th 2019 for all to share.


Recording from YouTube with courtesy of Jatavana Dhamma Institute

Submitted by: Chin Kee Thou
Dated: June 27th 2019

 

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“IQ & EQ in Buddhism” by Bhante Cakkapala – A video recording

The propagation of the Dhamma is indeed a noble deed following the footsteps of Lord Buddha, who 2500 years ago instructed His disciples to spread out to preach the Dhamma: “I allow you monks, to wander abroad for the good of the many, for the welfare and happiness of devas and humans. Do not go two together, monks, but teach the Dhamma that is lovely in the beginning, lovely in its middle, and lovely in its ending, both in letter and in the spirit, and display the holy life fully complete and perfect.” (DN II, 48).

Bhante Cakkapala, a resident monk at Mangala Vihara (Buddhist Temple) is an eloquent speaker, has been a frequent guest of various Buddhist institutions to deliver Dhamma Talk.

We bring forth and share his Dhamma talk delivered at Buddhist Fellowship on June 16th 2019.

(Video recording from YouTube with courtesy of Buddhist Fellowship)

The gift of Dhamma excels all other gifts. May this gift be of benefit to you.

Sadhu!

Submitted by Chin Kee Thou
Date June 17th 2019

 

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Announcement: “Buddhist Guidelines to Manage Negative Emotions” by Bhante Pemaratana

Negative emotions are mental defilements that will hamper our practice.

Let us learn from Bhante Pemaratana how to manage them.

Do avail yourself to listen to his Dhamma talk on July 8th 2019.

Poster credit: Chan Tuck Sing

Admission is free

All are welcome

Submitted by Chin Kee Thou
Date: June 1st 2019

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News Alert: “Will Buddhism disappear from the world?”

Let us hear from Venerable K. Rathanasara the “prediction” on June 24th 2019 during his Dhamma Talk.

Do mark your calendar and keep a date to know the fate.

Poster credit: Chan Tuck Sing

Admission is free.

All are welcome

Submitted by Chin Kee Thou
Date: May 15th 2019

 

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Announcement – Dhamma Talk, “Mirage” by Sister Sylvia Bay

Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Dhamma,

Sister Sylvia Bay will deliver a Dhamma talk “Mirage” on June 10th 2019

Do mark your calendar and keep the date to listen to her.

Poster credit: Chan Tuck Sing

Admission is free.

All are welcome

Submitted by: Chin Kee Thou
Date: May 1st 2019

 

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