KUALA LUMPUR (May 20): The Wesak Day was celebrated by Buddhists across the country on Sunday (May 19) in peaceful and harmonious atmosphere, in line with the practice of religious freedom that symbolises the unity of the country’s pluralistic society.
Buddhists began to visit temples early in the morning to carry out religious rituals and pay tribute to Siddharta Gautama, the founder of the religion.
The lively yet modest celebration filled the air when some 3,000 devotees visited the Maha Vihara Buddhist Temple, Brickfields to conduct religious ceremonies by lighting candles and bringing flowers to symbolise the birth, enlightenment and death of Gautama Buddha.
Meanwhile, in NEGERI SEMBILAN, devotees began to converge at the prayer hall inside the Malaysian Buddhist Association of Negeri Sembilan branch building at Jalan Tan Sri Manickvasagam here, as early as 9am, causing the situation around the temple to be crowded.
A total of 300 devotees performed religious rituals expected to take place until mid-day.
In MELAKA, Seck Kia Ench Temple at Jalan Gajah Berang here was where the focus of more than 3,000 devotees to carry out rituals and offerings in conjunction with the celebration.
Melaka Chief Minister Adly Zahari was also present to wish the devotees happy Wesak Day as he mingled with those at the temple.
The shopping malls in the city were also crowded with people who took advantage of the public holiday tomorrow and some were there to make early preparations in conjunction with the upcoming Hari Raya Aidilfitri.
Elsewhere in JOHOR BAHRU, the overcast weather did not prevent 40,000 Buddhists from gathering at the Fo Ghuang Shan Hsingma Si Bathing Temple in Skudai, here, since early morning to perform religious rituals.
The ceremony, which was also attended by state Tourism, Women, Family and Community Development Committee chairman Liow Cai Tung, was also featuring a Broadway dance performance by Guang Ming Institute of Performing Arts-Cebu from the Philippines.
In KUALA LUMPUR, Buddhist temples here were packed with devotees carrying flowers as well as other basic necessities such as rice, bottled drinks, and canned food to be donated to the temple.
One of the devotees, Tham Swe Loong, 68, said the Wesak Day celebration was not only for religious observation but also to serve as a day to help those in need.
“It is a day (Wesak) to help the poor and we brought food supplies for donation to those in need. We are very lucky to celebrate Wesak in harmony. It shows that we are living in a peaceful multiracial country,” he told Bernama at Maha Vihara Buddhist Temple yesterday (May 19).
The celebration also attracted an Australian tourist, Olivia Brown, 27, who did not want to miss the opportunity to experience the joy of the religious ceremony.
“It is fascinating to witness such very spiritual ceremony, full of tradition and rituals which shows their (Buddhists) faith and belief,” she said.
There were also various welfare bodies and non-governmental organisations carrying out volunteer activities to help the temple and devotees to perform their prayers and rituals smoothly.
Meanwhile, in KEDAH, state Chinese and Siamese Affairs, Science and Technology, Climate Change and Environmental Committee chairman Ooi Tze Min, along with other Buddhists celebrated Wesak Day today at the Central Kedah Buddhist Association in Sungai Petani.
Ooi also reminded the devotees to appreciate the values of Buddhism such as peace, humanity in daily life in recognition of the diversity of religions and ethnic groups in the country.
In SELANGOR, Buddhists in the surrounding area visited the Fo Guan Shan (FGS) Dong Zen Temple in Jenjarom, Banting with their families since last night to pray.
One of them, Lee Mun, 45, said the family continued with the tradition so that the children could learn about Buddhism that would make them better individuals in the future.
The temple, which houses the largest Buddha statue in the country, is also a tourist attraction as well as an important cultural and educational centre for the Buddhists.
In PENANG, heavy rain did not dampen the spirit of the devotees, including Tang Kwang Seng, 45, a Grab driver, from fulfilling his religious obligations to perform prayers at the Penang Buddhist Association at Jalan Burma here.
“Regardless of the weather condition, we will always come to pray, to fulfill our obligations,” he said.
In PERAK, Deputy Health Minister and Gopeng MP Dr Lee Boon Chye joined other devotees performing religious rituals at the Malaysian Buddhist Centre Perak branch in Pasir Puteh here since this morning.
He told reporters later that Wesak Day symbolised the harmony and unity that existed in the country’s multiracial, multi-religious society.
"We need to be mindful of our words and manners from doing bad deeds to avoid the misunderstanding between different culture and race, thus eradicating the ideology of extremism,” he said. — Bernama