They were praying for protection and safety, burning incense at the altar in the beauty salon at Punggol Plaza.
But a fire broke out, causing 80 people to be evacuated and one person to be taken to Singapore General Hospital (SGH).
At around 10.10pm on Sunday (Sept 6), the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) was alerted to a fire that involved the contents of a wooden cupboard containing a praying altar in the unit on the first level of the mall.
Security officers had already evacuated about 80 people before firefighters arrived and extinguished the flames with a water jet.
An SCDF spokesman said one person was taken to SGH for smoke inhalation, and the cause of the fire is being investigated.
The owner of the unit, who wanted to be known only as Ms Chen, 45, told Chinese daily Shin Min Daily News the fire was caused by an incense burner used by her employees.
She said the glass doors and cabinets in the unit were damaged and estimated her company suffered $20,000 in losses.
She said: "Because it is the seventh month and with the pandemic going on, my workers were praying for safety in the unit.
"The incense burner was placed on the altar cabinet and everyone left at about 8pm."
Ms Chen said the shop will now have to be renovated, but she does not blame her employees.
"Business has fallen by 40 per cent because of the pandemic, and now there is a fire," she said.
"But this is an accident, and I can't blame my workers who have been with me for four years and were praying with good intentions."
This article was first published in The New Paper.