Wesak

20 05 2008

Wesak day fell on the 19th of May this year. And for the first time I visited a Buddhist Temple near my house on Wesak Day. Wesak Day (or Vesak) is also sometimes called Buddha’s Birthday. It is also known as the Day of Enlightenment. On this day Buddhist around the world celebrate the birth, enlightenment and the passing of Buddha. I have only ever visited this temple a few times although it is situated a few hundred metres from the school I used to attend. If memory serves me, the first time I visited this temple was during an outing organized by my school. The temple is impressive in that it stands on a hill overlooking a park nearby.

With the exception of Thaipusam few religious celebrations are as colourful as Wesak. I had gone around to the temple at around 11 a.m that morning but the crowd was too big and the temperatures were soaring. I finally got to the temple at around 5 p.m, taking along my camera. Here are some of the pictures I took of the occasion.

monk

A young monk walking toward the temple

The devotees ring the bells and drop coins into the jars below

Coins are sorted and put into plastic bags

Because of the many temporary structures that were built around the temple for the occasion, none of the pictures I took of the temple do it justice. I shall endeavour to visit it again and take better ones. One of the more significant theme of the day is the giving of alms and this is done in various ways. Devotees sometimes exchange paper money for a plastic bag of coins which are then dropped into many of the jars and boxes around the temple complex. My only hope is that the temple could do away with use of plastic bags in future. Think of it as being charitable to the cause of nature.

Blessing given by monks in saffron robes.

In the main hall of the temple monks are seen giving out blessings and tying pieces of coloured string on the wrists of devotees. I must remember to ask my Buddhists friends what is the significance of this.

Young aspiring monks taking some time out

As noticed earlier, there were many ways devotees could choose in the giving of alms on Wesak day. You could opt to light wick placed in a bowl light oil (not sure what its called) or cover a statuette with gold leaves. You can purchase these gold leaves for about RM 4. I wonder if they are real McCoy. Did you know you can consume silver or gold?

The temple was inaugurated by the His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej in the Buddhist Era 2505 which is 1961 in the Roman calender. The statue of Buddha in the main temple was donated from his own palace.

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