Malaysia: Day to gather good karma
by Jason Gerald, Brenda Lim and Dean Dinesh, The New Straits Times, May 22, 2005
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- Thousands of Buddhists went to temples throughout the country today to celebrate Wesak Day.
Since 1991 Addressing devotees at the Kwan Inn Teng Vihara in Petaling Jaya this morning, Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting said it was important for Malaysians to hold to their own beliefs and yet be accommodating to others by showing that "we care".
"It is through moderation in our belief and the generosity of our actions that we will be able to achieve sustainable harmony for the country," he said.
"Our multi-cultural and multi-religious society is to be protected because it is through the diversity of our community that we can achieve richness in knowledge and understanding of the world."
Ong said Malaysians should place the country and society above themselves as this was vital for people to live in harmony.
Ong, who is MCA president, later presented donations from the Kwan Inn Teng Vihara Foundation to charitable organisations and students. Ong said the donations were in line with this year?s Wesak Day theme of "Do Good for Harmonious Co-existence".
In Ipoh, a large number of devotees were at the Enlightened Heart Buddhist Centre in Tambun, where the highlight of the celebrations at the Tibetan-style temple was the sunning of a giant scroll depicting the Sakyamuni Buddha. Measuring 60m long and 12m wide, the colourful canvas painting is brought out only once a year to absorb the "powers of the sun" and to allow devotees to rid themselves of bad karma.
Sunning the canvas is also to seek world peace, good health, harmonious relationship and success.
In Johor Baru, some 10,000 devotees turned up at Sekolah Rendah Kebangsaan Jenis Cina Foon Yew 1 at Majidee Park to celebrate Wesak Day. It was organised by the Malaysia Buddhist Association of Johor.
State executive councillor Freddie Long was in the long line of devotees who lighted candles at the school. Later in the evening, a chariot procession made its way through the city centre, drawing more than 30,000 people.
There was also a float procession, accompanied by a lion and dragon dance troupe.In George Town, more than 20,000 Buddhists joined a procession of 35 decorated floats. Starting at 7pm from the Buddhist Association premises in Jalan Burma, the procession passed through Jalan Pangkor, Jalan Kelawei, Lorong Burma, Jalan Perak, Jalan Anson, Jalan Macalister and Lorong Madras.
Among the organisations taking part were the Malaysian Buddhist Association, Penang Buddhist Association and Penang Wesak Celebration Committee. Penang Buddhist Association president Datuk Khoo Keat Siew said flowers offered by the devotees were used to decorate the floral floats.
The air of festivity was enhanced by the numerous stalls set up along the roadside selling food, prayer materials and flowers.