Butterworth Lay Buddhist Society
An aesthetic fusion of philosophy and mystical traditions
One of the newest iconic buildings of the Raja Uda area, this temple belonging to the Butterworth Lay Buddhist Society instantly draws attention with its majestic and beautiful dome on the rooftop.
The dome, shaped like a crown of the ancient Chinese emperor, was built and shipped from Beijing. Its quaint stately appearance certainly makes the structure aesthetically stand out along Jalan Kampung Baru, which is parallel eastward to Jalan Raja Uda.
The temple building is also unique because it integrates architectural elements of different branches of Buddhism – the Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana. This means the design shows multiple influences from Nepal, Sri Lanka, Tibet and the Indo-Chinese region. The various cultural and traditional schools of Buddhist philosophy as evolved in the East over the centuries harmoniously blend in this unique confluence provided within these halls.
Remarkably, the temple halls are also without pillars. This facilitates a sense of being openly welcomed and feeling unobstructed as one enters and makes his way into the hall. The space and its blissful environment are highly suitable for multiple religious purposes, whether they be for private personal worship or mass congregations.
The entrance of the main hall is graced by the statue of the Boddhisatva that is fully gold-plated. And at the heart of the hall is a resplendent image of Buddha made fully of bronze and specially created in Kathmandu, Nepal.
One storey above the main hall is a spacious secondary prayer chamber where religious events can be held. It bears the statue of the four-headed Varuchana Buddha, also made in Nepal.
A marvellous attraction here is a gigantic circular mandala on the high ceiling of this upper chamber. This concentric mandala was also designed in Nepal. On close scrutiny one notices that the circles are composed of some 3,000 small Buddha statues all positioned together in a geometric formation to give a trance-like effect when viewed from below.
As though not to be outdone, there is a yet another hall, on the ground floor, which houses a priceless 3,000 kilogramme statue of Buddha made of pure precious Burmese jade.
Indeed, while some of the temple's key iconic images are fashioned and brought in from Nepal – the very place that Buddha was born – the existence of various other relics that represent diverse influences from other Buddhist stylistics make the temple a veritable repository housing under one roof Buddhism's rich world traditions.
Written by Himanshu Bhatt
Photographs by Adrian Cheah