Beneath the Bodhi & Banyan
by Chu Hao Pei and Lee Chang Ming
Tree shrines have mushroomed around Singapore over the years from the jungle to industrial areas and sometimes even in the city centre or in the heart of residential areas. Trees have, eventually, become a refuge for abandoned deities figurines either recovered from the sea or left behind by individuals. The tree shrines scattered throughout Singapore offer an interesting insight to the everyday religious and cultural practices of our colourful heritage. The placement and type of shrines (e.g. Buddhist, Hindu etc.) are unique to Singapore and is a reflection of our multicultural society.
Even though the tree shrines may often be ignored by the general public, they link back to more vernacular forms of our heritage and link to our cultural roots as Singaporeans. More than just religious objects, the continued presence (and disappearance) of tree shrines in our modern city-state reveal an aspect of our diverse communities (and the conflict with the state over their existence).
This project raises questions surrounding these tree shrines: How did these tree shrines come about? Who removes these tree shrines? And why are they removed?