Hungry Ghosts Festival Hell MoneyHungry Ghosts Festival Hell Money


Singapore’s always been a melting pot of cultures and traditions, so it's little surprise that the country is home to many religious sites. Some are well-known and frequented by large crowds, while others are more secluded from the usual public eye. Here are five religious sites in Singapore that you may not know exist.

Hajjah Fatimah Mosque displays a unique blend of European, Chinese and Moorish architecture, and is easy to distinguish by its minaret tower and its skewed position facing Mecca. The mosque was designed by European architect John Turnbull Thomson and completed in 1846. Construction was funded by Hajjah Fatimah, a local aristocrat and wealthy businesswoman from whom the mosque takes its name.

Located in the historic neighbourhood of Kampong Glam, Hajjah Fatimah Mosque contains religious icons from both Islam and Christianity. The site has been a gazetted national monument since 1973. 

Silat Road Gurdwara is a Sikh temple on the fringes of Singapore’s central business district. The temple is well-known by the locals and the Sikh community who frequent it daily for prayers and blessings. And like all the Gurdwaras in Singapore, Silat Road offers free food and even shelter to anyone from any background.

Visitors are expected to remove their shoes, cover their heads, and make a small donation upon entering the prayer hall. Once inside, it's customary to spend at least a few minutes listening to the prayers before visiting the Langar Hall (food hall) to eat a vegetarian meal. 

Located among small rolling hills and lush greenery, St. George’s Church at Dempsey Hill is a short walk up the main road into a different world. This Anglican church was constructed in its distinctive red brick in 1910 under the direction of architect Edwin Lutyens, with many of the building materials imported directly from England.

The church was used as an ammunition dump by the Japanese forces during World War II. During the war, St. George's chaplain had the church's stained glass windows removed to protect them from damage and theft. But because this chaplain died before the war was over, the windows have never been recovered. They were eventually replaced in the 1950s.

Hakka Cemetery

The Yin Foh Kuan Memorial cemetery is a Hakka site, close to the trendy neighbourhood of Holland Village. Founded in 1887 by the first Chinese Hakka clan association in Singapore, the cemetery was established on a piece of land acquired from the British government, which the clan association named Shuang Long Shan (Double Dragon Hill).

Though the land has since passed back into government's control following Singapore's independence, the Yin Foh Kuan cemetery itself has survived to the present day. The site houses over 2,700 traditional Hakka tombstones, and eight larger graves belonging to prominent Hakka clan members.

During the festival of the Hungry Ghosts, you could be on a religious site and not know it. Every year, starting in August, the festival is celebrated to appease the ghosts of the dead that roam the earth. Special offerings are made to these ghosts in the form of ‘hell money’ that is burned in metal bins. You’ll find these bins in various neighbourhoods throughout Singapore. Several of these bins have incense sticks and food items nearby. These small, temporary sites are considered to be sacred during the festival period.