To hell and back

Fairytales teach us about the world. Every story tells about morals and teaches a lesson. We know Hansel and Gretel and Little red riding hood.  In Singapore kids learn a very different lesson; don’t go to hell.

The Buddhist values are passed on to the younger generation via stories. To get an idea of these stories you can walk through Haw Par Villa, a park full of statues. Its design comes from the beginning of the 20th century and displays scenes of the Chinese mythology. It is very graphic and doesn’t leave much room for your own interpretation.haw par villa4

Years ago you had to pay to get a look at this life-size history book, but since it wasn’t popular enough to make a profit, you can wander around for free these days. The biggest attraction is the ‘Ten courts of hell’. In the ten courts you are showed what happens to adults and kids who don’t behave. First there is an introduction to the most important players in the field, let’s call it justice. Then you enter a big cave passed the gatekeepers of hell; ox head and horse head.

A group of kids is on a school trip. They are eagerly looking around, answering questions. I don’t get why you take fairly young kids to this place. If this was displayed on TV there would be a parental advice on it. The statues in the cave show gruesome events. For being unfaithful, a prostitute, dealing drugs or not respecting your parents you are punished by being sawed in half, being cooked in a blood bath or being tied to an ice block until you freeze to death. The cave is a big puppet show of painful expressions and lots of blood. Puppets are stabbed on knifes in trees and intestines are being pulled out of bellies.

There is one small dot of light at the end of the tunnel of death. Every doomed person gets a cup of tea from an old lady. The tea makes you forget. After that it is all up to Samsara to decide how you reincarnate into the world. Whether or not you have a good life depends on what you’ve done in your past life. Torture in hell is not enough to clean your slate. You can just be put back into the world for another miserable life. I think next time, I’ll go to movie world or something.

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