New exhibition at ACM explores wellness through displays of sacred and ritual art

The exhibition opens on Nov 25 and features healing practices and divine images from different religions in Asia.

Sherlyn Sim

Considers knowing how to use a rice cooker an achievement.

Published: 23 November 2022, 12:01 PM

You can explore the relationship between the mind, body and spirit in different religions from Nov 25, 2022 to Mar 26, 2023, at the Asian Civilisations Museum’s (ACM) Body & Spirit: The Human Body in Thought and Practice exhibition. 

Located at the Special Exhibition Gallery on Level 2, the exhibition is held along with two showcases, Buddha Relics and Vel Vel: The Burden Dance.

Featuring over 100 objects from the National Collection, private collectors, and local communities, Body & Spirit surveys the rituals, healing practices, pilgrimage, and divine images of different faith communities

The exhibition will highlight the importance of the human body in religion with regards to religious rituals and practices, as well as how it is conceptualised in relation to the spirit.


This Jain painting depicts the universe as a human being. PHOTO CREDIT: ASIAN CIVILISATIONS MUSEUM


The displays in the exhibition will include manuscripts, paintings, medical tools, talismans, prayer furniture and textiles.

One of the two showcases complementing the exhibition, Buddha Relics, is located at the Level 2 Foyer. It features beads and precious offerings that were buried together with bone relics of the Buddha in the Piprahwa Stupa in India. The bone relics are seen as substitutes for the Buddha himself that are imbued with his powers.

In recognition of the significance of these relics to Buddhist communities today, visitors can leave offerings of fresh and dried flowers at a special station in the gallery.

Another showcase is at the Contemporary Gallery, titled Vel Vel: The Burden Dance. It explores the practice of making and bearing kavadi, which means “burden” in Tamil. Kavadi are elaborate structures carried during Thaipusam, a yearly festival celebrated by Singapore’s Tamil Hindu community.

The showcase is produced by local art collective Sistrum, and features a sonic experience that highlights the community’s collaboration in taking part in a constantly evolving tradition and its relationship with dance and music.

Admission to both the Buddha Relics showcase and the Vel Vel: The Burden Dance showcase is free for Singaporeans and Permanent Residents.

Curator tours, interactive activities, and workshops focusing on mindfulness and bodily wellness will also be available online and onsite in conjunction with the special exhibition and showcases.

There is also an interactive space at the Level 2 Foyer dedicated to Asian wellness practices including yoga and traditional Chinese medicine. Other experiences such as a sonic mindfulness experience and slow craft activities are available too.

Admission to Body & Spirit: The Human Body in Thought and Practice is at $12 for Singaporean adults. Singaporean and Permanent Resident students, seniors and children under six years old can enter for free.

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