Harmony lies in the direction
Feng shui, a combination of science and art, is a practice that believes that the environment influences almost everything in our lives, says NEELAM MATHEWS after a visit to Singapore.
Promoting well being and balance ... Singapore has taken to feng shui in a big way.
DISCORD is evident in the world around us, making many turn to age old sciences like feng shui for instance to bring back harmony and balance. Singapore and Hong Kong are known to have adopted its principles in the construction industry. The ideas date back at least 3,000 years, yet a growing number of architects and decorators are integrating feng shui ideas with contemporary building design.
Feng Shui, or Geomancy, is the ancient Chinese practice of harnessing the powers of nature to promote business and one's general well-being. Feng shui literally means wind and water. The practise believes that the environment influences our mental state, health, family, career development. A combination of science and art with a dash of common sense, this practice is very much alive in cosmopolitan Singapore. Despite its modernity and sophistication, it has many feng shui devotees, from the man on the street to professionals and millionaires.
Stuck in your career? Trouble in your love life? The root of your problems may be in the design of your home, say practitioners of feng shui. Donald Trump is using it. Virgin Atlantic Airlines, the Bank of England and the United Nations have embraced it. Just like Vastushastra, it is very much an environmental science. It is incorporates the natural environment, the earth's magnetic field, yin (female) and yang (male) forces, mountains and rivers. A site with good feng shui generally sees its tenants prosperous and happy while a place with bad feng shui sees few occupants or those who are sick, poor and seemingly ill of luck. Singapore Tourism Board's innovative "In Harmony with Feng Shui Tour" gives an idea of Chinese geomany and how the Lion City embraces its principles.
Singapore's location in Asia is apparently blessed with good feng shui, a reason why it continues to be prosperous and devoid of natural catastrophes. The tour begins with a visit to Way Geomancy in Fu Lu Shou Complex, owned by Master Tan Khoon Yong, one of the 45 full practising geomancers in Singapore. Unlike other masters who are low key, Master Tan has opened his office to visitors. His company has even achieved the ISO 9001 certification and has a website: www.waygeomancy.com. His harmonious office is testimony to good feng shui from the overall office layout and colour to the positioning of the money box and his slightly elevated table.
Here one finds out where the five dragons, auspicious mythological creatures lie in Singapore and as one rides into the city centre, one sees if their positions have indeed contributed to the island's prosperity.
The Merlion .. there are plans to shift it to restore good feng shui.
In the city centres, feng shui's rich symbolism and imagination have been subtly incorporated into the orientation and design of many prominent commercial and residential buildings. The Hilton Hotel, for example, has indoor status of two life-sized warriors. To lessen the qi, energy, which was too strong, the warriors were moved outside the hotel. Conrad International Hotel has the number 13 on its entire facade; the number is lucky in feng shui circles and in Cantonese sounds like``bound to live''or guaranteed to prosper. The popular shopping centre of Wisma Atria is painted blue, making it look like a large aquarium. Water is good for feng shui, which is why a lot of houses and buildings have water fountains, ponds, aquariums and "waterfalls".
Geomancers believe Singapore's icon, the Merlion, had good feng shui in 1972 when it was placed at the entrance of the Singapore river. Not so anymore because its view is blocked by the extension of the Marina Bay . Because the Merlion does not have open access to the sea, it is interpreted as a sign of wealth being blocked, as seen during the recent financial crisis. My guide says plans are on to shift the Merlion.
Feng shui is also at the heart of the battle of banks. Overseas Union Bank (OUB) has very sharp edges pointing at United Overseas Bank (UOB) sharp edges are not good feng shui, especially for banks. So OUB built a platform in the middle resembling a chopping board to neutralise the sharp edges. Nearby Standard Chartered is also hurt by the sharp edges (not to mention by the sculpture of a big bird sitting on a pile of money, with the tail facing Standard). To counter this, Standard has slanted almost everything in its building: the staircase at the entrance, every tile, ceiling, even planters and windows!
SunTec City is designed to symbolise a giant hand. The four, 45-storey office towers represent the fingers and the Singapore International Convention and Exhibition Centre represents the thumb. The palm is displayed as the Fountain of Wealth, from which fortune flows. Walking clockwise three times while touching the water is said to bring luck and blessings of fortune. I do the ritual in the hope that the good fortune of the Suntec city will touch me despite troubled times.
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