By Kalinga Seneviratne*
SINGAPORE (IDN | Lotus News Features) – Buddhist ideas and wisdom are being increasingly adopted by the West as part of a 21st century modern lifestyle, but in the East, youth are increasingly distancing themselves from their Buddhist heritage becoming “free thinkers” or even embracing Christianity from the West. A group of young Buddhist musicians from Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia have now come together to reverse this trend by using music to attract youth.
They staged a Buddhist musical show at the prestigious Esplanade arts centre here called “Sadhu for the Music” to mark the Vesak festival. The two shows on May 4 and 5 were a sell-out filling up all four levels of the large concert hall’s galleries.
The traditional method of getting the youth to come to the temple and listen to the Dhamma (Buddha’s teachings) is not working anymore argues Wilson Ang, President of the Buddhist Fellowship of Singapore (BFS), which organized the concert in collaboration with the Buddhist Gem Fellowship of Malaysia (BGFM) and Buddhist Fellowship Indonesia. The show was directed by the internationally acclaimed Malaysian Buddhist singer and musician Imee Ooi, who has recorded over 1,000 songs and 50 albums.
Ang told Lotus News, that at a recent conference here an academic has provided statistics, which showed declining interest in Buddhism in Singapore among the youth. “That caught my attention and I wanted to see how we can capture the interest of this younger generation as well as nominal Buddhists,” he explained. “Every youth today carry a mobile phone and they listen to music on it. Or watch movies. Probably we can use music as a starter to reach via the media they are closely associated with.”
Prof Victor Wee , President of BGFM agrees. “Before we can start telling people about Dhamma, our first challenge is to persuade them to come and listen,” he argues. “And good music certainly has the power of attraction.”
Buddhists in Asia are well aware of the power of Gospel Music that has helped to attract youth in the region to Christianity in large numbers. The production ‘Sadhu of the Music’ had a great influence of this genre of music in its presentation style but the lyrics were well crafted with Buddhist ideas and even chants from the sutras (Buddha’s sermons). Continue reading