How Wesak Day is Celebrated in Malaysia

  • 16 May 2019
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Wesak Day is an auspicious day in the Buddhist calendar because it marks the birthday of Gautama Buddha, the Nepalese prince born between 558 to 400 BC; and also the day he passed away and reached enlightenment between 491 to 400 BC. It is believed that his passing meant that he had achieved Nirvana, released from being born again in samsara.

The date varies yearly because of the difference in local lunar observance and uses the Asian luni-solar calendars. It is primarily celebrated in the Vaisakha month of the Buddhist calendar and the Hindu calendar. It is also the Sanskrit name in Mahayana Buddhist traditions.

Wesak celebrations usually include 'bathing' the Buddha statue, abstaining from eating meat, meditating and observing the Eight Precepts. In Malaysia, the Wesak ceremony begins at dawn and Buddhist devotees and monks will gather at Buddhist temples nationwide to meditate on the Eight Precepts; and sing hymns in praise of the holy triple gem: The Buddha, The Dharma (his teachings) and The Sangha (his disciples).

Once the chants are completed, a candle procession and a symbolic offering of flowers, candles and joss-sticks are made to remind the devotees that life is subject to decay and destruction. Donations and food for the needy are also given.

At the Malaysian Buddhist Association, devotees will queue to bathe the Buddha statue, which is a special ritual that represents the purification and cleansing of a practitioner's soul of bad karma. At the end of the prayers, they will dine together – consuming only vegetarian food.

The Wesak Day Parade in Kuala Lumpur normally takes place at the Buddhist Temple Maha Vihara in Brickfields. The parade follows the same route almost every year; passing by Jalan Raja Chulan, Jalan Sultan Ismail and Jalan Bukit Bintang and back to Brickfields again.

Thousands of birds, insect, and animals are released as a symbol of liberation by granting freedom to those who were imprisoned, captured or tortured against their will.

Photo Source: Buddhist Bugs Blogspot

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