Malaysia: Gearing up for Wesak Day

The Star
20 May 2013

Getting ready: A devotee arranging lotus candles on a table at Wat Chaiyamangalaram Temple in Burmah Lane, Penang.Getting ready: A devotee arranging lotus candles on a table at Wat Chaiyamangalaram Temple in Burmah Lane, Penang.



BUDDHIST temples and asso-ciations in George Town, Penang, are all geared up for the annual Wesak Day celebrations on Friday.

The Wat Chaiyamangalaram Temple in Burmah Lane was all abuzz with activity as some 70 volunteers were seen giving the temple a fresh, clean look.

The temple’s main attraction – the 33 metre-long reclining Buddha statue built in 1958 – was cleaned by only male devotees.

Called the Phra Chaiya Mongkol, the statue is also known as the Sleeping Buddha to the local community.

At the end of the clean-up, five layers of new robes were placed on the statue, from the shoulder to the knee.

The temple’s Wesak Day celebrations coordinator Peter Yuen, 48, said it has been the temple’s tra-dition to have the clean-up done twice a year — for Wesak Day and the New Year celebration on Jan 1.

He said some 150 volunteers from other states were also on standby to help out during the celebrations.

“The most significant moment during the clean-up is when the male helpers are given the rare chance to go up on the platform and pray at Buddha’s sole (the underside of the foot).

Seeking blessings: Visitors offering prayers at Dhammikarama Burmese Temple.
Seeking blessings: Visitors offering prayers at Dhammikarama Burmese Temple.

“This is the time when they grab the chance to ask for forgiveness and seek blessings for the world, their loved ones and themselves,” he said at the temple yesterday.

Yuen added that praying at the sole was akin to the act of seeking blessing at one’s parents’ feet.

Opposite the temple is the Dhammikarama Burmese Buddhist Temple, where several volunteers were seen setting up and decorating the floral float for the Wesak Day procession.

The work on the float started about two weeks ago and devotees were expected to bring fresh flowers to decorate the float a day before the procession on Fri-day.

Volunteer Chin Weng Sum, 41, said the float takes on a new look every year.

“As most of us are working, we can only come here at night to help out.

“We hope the public can chip in some donation to be used during the celebrations,” said Chin, who has been assisting with the cele-brations since he was seven years old.

Over at the Malaysian Buddhist Association (MBA) premises in Burmah Road, volunteers were busy setting up the main float of the procession.

Organised by the Penang Wesak Celebrations Committee, the procession will start at the MBA premises before passing through Pangkor Road, Kelawei Road, Burmah Lane, Burmah Road, Peel Avenue, Perak Road, Anson Road, Macalister Road and Madras Lane, and back to the MBA.

The Wesak Day celebrations this year is themed ‘A Prosperous Nation, A Peaceful Life’.

Wesak Day marks the birth of Lord Buddha and also his enlightenment (nirvana) and death (parinirvana).


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