'At least he asked for permission': Man filmed taking altar offerings along HDB corridor

'At least he asked for permission': Man filmed taking altar offerings along HDB corridor
A man was caught on CCTV taking fruit from an altar along a HDB corridor.
PHOTO: TikTok/Melvin Chew

Stealing from a prayer altar is a no-no, partly for fear of accidentally offending the deities.

However, one man might have crossed the line when he was caught on CCTV taking some fruit offerings from a Chinese altar located along a HDB corridor last Sunday (Sept 11). 

In the 18-second video, the man, dressed in a green T-shirt, can be seen walking past the altar. Noticing the fruit offerings, he reaches out to take an apple and could be seen muttering a quick prayer before walking off with the fruit in hand. 

Two minutes later, the man returns to the altar again. This time, he could be seen saying a longer prayer before taking the four remaining apples with him. 

According to the timestamp on the video, the incident took place at about 1:05am in the morning. 

A TikTok user who goes by the name Melvin Chew, reposted the video with the caption: "At least he ask permission from God lol". 

AsiaOne reached out to Chew who said that the CCTV footage did not belong to him. 

In less than a day, Chew's video has racked up more than 236,600 views and received more than 500 comments from netizens, many who found no fault with the man's actions. 

One netizen pointed out the possibility that the man could be simply following a custom in Hinduism.

"He didn't intend to steal. He took it in a custom way," the netizen explained. 

According to Hindu tradition, prasadam refers to the food that has been blessed by a deity, which is then shared and consumed by devotees. 

"Let him take, but don't shame him" wrote one netizen, while another felt it was better to let him take the fruit rather than let it go to waste.  

Back in 2020, a man made headlines when he took to Facebook to share about his fruit hunts in Bishan and Ang Mo Kio. 

Daniel Tay, a freegan, wrote that he managed to collect more than 200 fruits in two nights during the Hungry Ghost Festival

The reason? He didn't want the fruit offerings to go to waste. 

For the uninitiated, freegans reject consumerism and seek to help the environment by reducing waste, and one way of doing so is to collect edible food or usable items that have been discarded. 

Tay also mentioned that he consulted a Taoist priest beforehand, who gave him the green light to collect the offerings after the incense has finished burning. 

In his Facebook post, Tay shared what he learnt about the tradition observed by Buddhists and Taoists during the seventh lunar month.

"Offerings can be removed after the lighted incense (has finished burning). Say a word of thanks and accord a bow of respect.

"Don't take them while the incense is still burning. It's very rude to take food away from those who are still eating it."

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