Thousands seek blessings for Wesak Day

Devotees turning up at Buddhist Maha Vihara temple in Brickfields to offer prayers and seek blessings after two years of not being able to observe rites. — Photos: AZMAN GHANI/The Star

THERE was a higher than anticipated turnout of devotees at Buddhist temples and centres in the Klang Valley for the Wesak Day celebration.

Unlike the past two years, most places of worship did not limit the number of people allowed inside the premises.

However, the organisers took other measures to reduce the crowds by cancelling some usual side activities while maintaining the spiritual elements.

Malaysia’s Buddhist chief high priest Datuk K. Sri Dhammaratana estimated about 30,000 devotees would visit the Buddhist Maha Vihara temple in Brickfields by the end of the Wesak Day celebration, similar to pre-Covid numbers.

Despite the cancellation of the traditional procession, he said many people turned up to pray, present offerings, seek blessings and meditate.

“Although the crowd was manageable, the temple was busy until 2.30am on the eve and devotees have not stopped coming in since morning.

“However, this year, I am seeing a much younger crowd and fewer senior citizens.

“This year, we pray for a healthy society, peace and harmony,” he told StarMetro.

He also said the temple had to cancel side events that traditionally run concurrently with the celebration like blood donation drives, charity programmes and distribution of food as part of crowd management measures.

Devotees presenting their offerings to a monk at the Ti-Ratana Buddhist Society Desa Petaling welfare centre on Wesak Day morning.Devotees presenting their offerings to a monk at the Ti-Ratana Buddhist Society Desa Petaling welfare centre on Wesak Day morning.

“People are thrilled to be physically present to get their blessings and I hope the Covid-19 situation will continue to improve so that we can have a full-fledged celebration next year,” he said.

Subang Jaya Buddhist Association secretary and Wesak Day organising chairman Peter Chew said many devotees expressed their happiness at being able to visit the temple.

Judging by the crowd on the eve and Wesak Day morning, he said between 1,000 and 1,500 devotees were expected to visit the temple.

“Before the pandemic, we used to receive about 4,000 people.

“Celebrations in the last two years were very small and many could only follow online.

“We anticipated 800 people would turn up this year, but the number looks like it will double.

“There are many happy faces around.

“Pre-packed food was distributed to the crowd.

“Our annual parade around the temple on the eve was shifted to a walk with lighted tea-light candles in hands to pray for peace and health.

“It rained but it did not dampen spirits,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ti-Ratana Buddhist Society resident monk Rev Hemaloka said all its branches in Klang, Bangsar, Puchong, Cheras, Petaling Jaya and Kepong were busy with devotees coming to conduct the rites and rituals observed on Wesak Day.

“We are praying for happiness and success, in general.

“However, we have spread out our humanitarian programmes and welfare activities throughout the month,” he said.

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