Big Wesak bash in Brickfields

Devotees remembering Buddha at the Buddhist Maha Vihara hall on Wesak Day.

Buddhist devotees across the country celebrated Wesak Day on Tuesday  by visiting temples and remembering the Buddha’s life and path to enlightenment.

At the well-established Buddhist Maha Vihara in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur, the celebration was a grand affair and a memorable one, with the attendance of Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and several cabinet ministers.

Chief monk of Buddhist Maha Vihara and chief high priest of Malaysia, Ven K Sri Dhammaratana Nayaka Maha Thera, thanked the deputy prime minister for his presence, adding that they looked forward to welcoming their VIP guest many times more in the future.

Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin arrives to an officious welcome at the Buddhist Maha Vihara for Wesak Day. Standing beside him are Chief High Priest of Malaysia Ven K Sri Dhammaratana Nayaka Maha Thera (left, in saffron robe) and Transport Minister Kong Cho Ha (right).

Wesak Day celebrates Buddha’s birthday, his enlightenment and his death and corresponds to the fifteenth day of the fourth month of the Chinese lunar calendar

Among those present included Transport Minister Kong Cho Ha, Deputy Education Minister Wee Ka Siong, Deputy Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities G. Palanivel and Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister A. Kohilan Pillay.

“My heart is filled with joy to see the deputy prime minister who is a Muslim coming here, said Alan Yip, 35,  a devout Buddhist. “His visit is an exemplary show of multicultural and religious harmony in the country. This is good for 1Malaysia,” added the impressed Yip.

Various activities were conducted at the temple, including the lighting of oil lamps, mass prayers, blood donation, distribution of free vegetarian food and drinks, exhibition on the life of Buddha, donations to the underprivileged and a grand float procession in the city streets in the evening.

A spokeswoman of the Buddhist Missionary Society Malaysia Ladies Section (BMSMLS) said that volunteers cooked, packed and distributed 8,000 packets of mixed rice and fried mee hoon to devotees and visitors. All the rice, vegetables and ingredients were fully sponsored by well-wishers. According to her, volunteers started preparing the food at 7.3 pm the previous night and cooking started at 1am to be on time for the lunch hour.

The scorching sun made many devotees thirsty and there were cool drinks to quench their thirst.

F&N Beverage Marketing sponsored 16,800 bottles (1.5L) of Fruit Tree juice and 7,200 tetra packs of 250ml Jasmine green tea. Its special event organiser, Zahid Dol and his team, were present to ensure smooth distribution of the free drinks.

A blood donation campaign attracted hundreds of devotees.

A donor, Chong  Khian Foo, 26, an engineer with an oil & gas off shore exploration company said, “Wesak Day is a joyous occasion, I feel very good and  happy to be part of this special day donating blood.

“It’s a charitable thing to do and a nice way to celebrate Wesak. More such blood donation drives should be held to encourage more people to donate blood, ” added Chong, an 18-time donor.

It was wonderful to see hundreds of volunteers help out during the event. They were there very early, from the start, and deserve commendation for a great job selflessly, tirelessly, and enthusiastically done.

A decorated float carring a statue of a Reclining Buddha makes its way in front of McDonald's in Jalan Bukit Bintang during the floats procession.

A volunteer at the lamp lighting booth, Dilifbabu, 30, storeman with Royal Malaysia Air Force (TUDM) Subang and who is a Hindu said, “It’s my first time volunteering and I believe in the good cause to help.”

In the evening, a parade of 27 eye-catching floats bearing images and statues of Buddha, was followed by thousands of devotees holding candles and singing Buddhist hymns.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Dr Koh Tsu  Koon launched the procession at 7.30pm. Koh and Dhammaratana led the procession followed by a procession of thousands of chanting devotees.

The 12km journey which took about three hours began at the temple and passed through major streets in the city including the tourist areas of Little India, Chinatown and Bukit Bintang before returning to the temple.