Kechara Saraswati Arts – the 1st Tibetan arts studio in S.E. Asia

By Kelvin Hong

11 May 2009 - 9:07am Comments Off

Kechara Paradise was set-up in Year 2000, with the aim of providing quality Tibetan statues to spiritual seekers. Alas, there were set-up challenges, sales were slow, rental then was considered steep at $1200 ringgit per month and the china porcelain ware and sombre looking plastic flowers did not garner much attention. Despite all the challenges, Rinpoche and his senior students did not give up but instead persevered. KP was initially led by liaison Chia Song Peng, the baton was later eventually passed down to liaison Maliwan whom has headed it successfully right up to this day.

Welcoming Rinpoche


Welcoming Rinpoche

Rinpoche then conceptualized the idea of Saraswati Arts, a studio where statues can be painted in Tibetan style, thangkas can be framed and painted, clothing can be sewn and beadworks can be made. This served two purposes, firstly to overcome the challenges of relying on suppliers in India (which can take months) and secondly, to train up local people to “D.I.Y.” as this would reduce a substantial amount of cost and make items more affordable for everyone.

Rinpoche, with KSA directors James Long and Joy Kam

Rinpoche and Kechara Discovery HOD Paul Yap

Rinpoche and KSA Sewing Dept Head Eric Choong

James Long was appointed to head Saraswati Arts together with liaison Joy Kam. They are both working for Saraswati on a voluntary basis as each have their own professional commitments, James is a singer and a music teacher while Joy is a graphics designer together with her New Zealand beau Justin Ripley. The opening of Saraswati Arts is a monumental milestone for James and Joy as both have been working very hard for their department over the last year despite their other full-time commitments. A new sewing department headed by celebrity fashion designer Eric Choong adds new pomp to the new Saraswati arts studio.

Rinpoche with Volunteers

Preparations for the opening had taken place few months ago, and many volunteers (too many to name here) had been contributing their time and effort to making the opening a success. Many generous sponsors of Kechara House had also contributed to the opening in one way or the other either through cash donations or in kind. The patron goddess of the center, Saraswati was invited into her new abode on 2nd Dec on a hot Sunday afternoon. Many family members of Kechara House turned up to support the event. Yesterday was also a special day and milestone for liaison Paul Yap, as it concurrently marked the opening of Kechara Discoveries, whom he heads. All the furniture inside Paul’s one room office was kindly sponsored by Madam Lee Ho. Once again, Kechara Discoveries was an idea conceptualized by our kind Rinpoche to allow members of Kechara to make yearly pilgrimages to holy Buddhist sites, under the guidance of experienced personnel. Besides that, one other key task of liaison Paul Yap is to source for alternative suppliers of statues, or other innovative way of statue creation.

Offering Body Speech and Mind

When Rinpoche arrived, he did a peaceful purification ritual to bless the premise so that Saraswati Arts can grow and expand in the future to benefit many. Rinpoche further went on to give a short Dharma talk about taking responsibility and not blaming other people as this is a basic tenet for Buddhists on the basis of karma, which is dependent on the law of cause and effects. Rinpoche also did a refuge prayer and blessing for everyone and moved many with his deep-rooted Guru devotion to his root guru, Zong Rinpoche.

Offering Body Speech and Mind

Rinpoche later shared his vision of how he hope Saraswati Arts can expand further in the future to become a “one-stop-center” by occupying an even bigger premise in a bungalow, on how that can be built and sharing resources alongside with the Dharma outlets as well as Kechara Discoveries.

The opening of Saraswati Arts provides an avenue for many people who have no inclination to Dharma to actually enter Dharma through Arts, as it allows them to connect to a deeper spiritual being inside each and every one of us. Saraswati is a fully Enlightened Being, she carries a Vena (musical instrument) which represents her mastery of skills in all arts and composition and the 84,000 teachings of Buddha reverberate within the sound of her Vena. Ultimately, that is why the place is set-up, to allow modern day people to connect deeper to themselves, a current understated spiritual side which can someday blossom into a Buddha nature, who understands the nature of all phenomena as empty of inherent existence and perhaps, able to make a karmic connection with Saraswati in this or in future lives and achieve realization into the profound meaning of emptiness and escape the wheels of Samsara which binds us all.

Offering Body Speech and Mind

Offering Body Speech and Mind

Rinpoche Performs Blessing Ceremony

James, Joy, Wan

Mr Long and Aunt, James, Chris

Crowd Shot

Definitely a packed house


The mantra of Saraswati graces the wall of Kechara Saraswati Arts (KSA) new studio in SS2, after almost one and a half years of sharing a small room within Kechara Paradise (KP), the first Dhama outlet pioneered by H.E. Tsem Rinpoche.

“…Captivating presence stealing my mind,
Those alluring honeybee eyes in that lotus face,
More beautiful than the splendor of a full autumn moon,
A voice eclipsing the sweetest melody, oh Brahma,
A mind as hard to fathom as the deepest ocean,
I bow before the Goddess Saraswati…”

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