Parade of colourful floats as homage to Buddha


Volunteers of Wat Chaiya Mangalaram, a Thai Buddhist temple, cleaning a statue of the reclining Buddha.

ORNATE floats bedecked in colourful blooms and bright lights will make their way through several roads in George Town, Penang tonight for Wesak Day.

The floats will be accompanied by thousands of devotees carrying flowers and candles to commemorate the birth, enlightenment and passing of Siddharta Gautama or Lord Buddha.

This year’s Wesak Day procession features 23 floats from different societies and temples.

Penang Wesak Celebrations committee chairman Datuk Dr Loh Hock Hun said the procession would start at 6.15pm today at the Malaysian Buddhist Association (MBA) in Jalan Burma and end at the same location at about midnight.

“The procession will pass along a 7km route after the launch by Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow.

“It will pass through Jalan Kelawei, Lorong Burma, Jalan Perak, Lebuhraya Peel, Jalan Macalister, Jalan Anson, Lorong Madras and several neighbourhoods before heading back to the MBA building,” he said.

The parade has been organised by the Penang Wesak Celebrations committee since 1949.

Yew (in white T-shirt) and several family members seeking blessings at Mahindarama Buddhist Temple.Yew (in white T-shirt) and several family members seeking blessings at Mahindarama Buddhist Temple.

At the Sian Chye Tong Temple in Hye Keat Estate, Air Itam, its youth section members burnt the midnight oil to get the float ready in time for the procession.

Youth section chairman and float designer Loh Choon Teik said it took them more than a month to decorate the 9.14m-long float.

“We used various types of artificial roses, orchids, sunflowers, chrysanthemums, carnations, tulips and ferns.

Sian Chye Tong Temple’s Wesak Day float in Hye Keat Estate, Air Itam. — Courtesy picSian Chye Tong Temple’s Wesak Day float in Hye Keat Estate, Air Itam. — Courtesy pic

“Various types of LED lighting, bulbs and spotlights were added to brighten and beautify the float,” he said.

Loh said the main focal point would be two golden dragons measuring about 4.5m each and a huge rotating lotus flower, with a 1.37m-high statue of Buddha placed in front of luminous lotus flower petals.

“Our previous years’ floats had received lots of admiration.

Chow (centre, in purple) watching as Buddhist monks and other leaders perform the Buddha bathing ritual at the Penang Wesak Celebration Day 2024 opening ceremony at MBA.Chow (centre, in purple) watching as Buddhist monks and other leaders perform the Buddha bathing ritual at the Penang Wesak Celebration Day 2024 opening ceremony at MBA.

“This inspires us to be more creative in our designs each year,” he said, adding that it had been the temple’s tradition to design its float for nearly four decades.

On the eve of Wesak Day, devotees thronged the temple to offer prayers and also for the bathing of Buddha ceremony.

The youth section’s religious advisor Rev Seck Zhen Cheng also led the chanting of prayers and offering of light for world peace.

This year, the temple raised RM12,000 through the lighting of oil lamps and donations from well-wishers, which will be used to help the needy and various charitable organisations.

Creative floats

Khiah showing the LED candles that devotees can light up at Hui Yin Seh.Khiah showing the LED candles that devotees can light up at Hui Yin Seh.Breaking away from the traditional floral concept is the Hui Yin Seh’s “moving stage” float.

The society’s chairman Khiah Hock Leong said their float, which is 6.7m-long and 2.5m-high, had been part of the Wesak Day procession since 1993, except during the Covid-19 movement control order.

He said the society’s Dhamma class students aged between 12 and 16, together with several adults, would be singing songs on the float during the procession.

“So far, I believe we are the only Buddhist organisation doing this,” he said, adding that the society was established in 1973.

Khiah said the float would feature a Buddhist flag lit with LED lights.

“Some 400 members will be taking part in the procession alongside the float, accompanied by dancing children from our Dhamma class,” he said.

There will also be an LED-candle lighting ceremony, chanting session, Buddha bathing ceremony as well as free vegetarian food served to visitors at the society in Lintang Paya Terubong 3, Bandar Baru Air Itam.

Earlier on Sunday, there was a hive of activity at Mahindarama Buddhist Temple in Jalan Kampar for the Wesak Day celebrations.

Temple chairman Gan Chee Tong said the programmes ongoing until May 26 included Dhamma talks, Pindapata (practice of Buddhist monks and nuns receiving food offerings from lay people), chanting, meditation, food fair, float procession, dana (practice of cultivating generosity), retreat and blood donation campaign.

Hui Yin Seh’s Dhamma class students will be singing Buddhist songs during the float procession.Hui Yin Seh’s Dhamma class students will be singing Buddhist songs during the float procession.

He said cleaning works and putting up decorations such as lanterns had begun a week ago.

Gan: The statues are wiped dry as we don’t allow any sort of cleaning chemicals to be used to protect them.Gan: The statues are wiped dry as we don’t allow any sort of cleaning chemicals to be used to protect them.“We have several volunteers who have been coming here to assist, especially to clean the statues of Lord Buddha, which were made by artisans from Sri Lanka in 1918.

“The statues are wiped dry as we don’t allow any sort of cleaning chemicals to be used, to protect them,” he explained.

The temple is mainly famous for lighting of lotus candles on the eve of Wesak Day, said Gan.

“So far, devotees have donated 8,000 candles and we expect more to come.

“The other highlight will be the exhibition of the Buddha and Arahant Mahinda Relics from the Royal Temple of Mihintale in Sri Lanka on May 24.

“These relics are currently on exhibition in Melaka.

“After Penang, the relics will return to the temple in Sri Lanka,” he said.

Arahant Mahinda is said to have introduced Buddhism to Sri Lanka and was the son of Emperor Ashoka.

Show of unwavering faith

Devotee Mano Cheang has been volunteering at the temple for nearly 40 years.

“I come here when I am free, and serve food to the monks and do some administrative work,” he said when met at the Mahindarama Buddhist Temple.

Another volunteer, businessman Ooi Eng Chong said he first visited the temple 12 years ago, prompted by a friend who used to volunteer there.

“This friend encouraged me to volunteer my time and services to the temple.

“Once I started volunteering regularly, I came to love it.

“My heart feels light and happy whenever I come to the temple.

“I have also encouraged my friends and children to volunteer here,” said Ooi who comes by on Sundays to help clear used candles and clean the temple.

Administrative executive Crystal Yew, from Singapore, visited the temple for the first time with her husband, two children and mother-in-law.

She had heard a lot about the candle-lighting ceremony at the temple.

“Since we happened to be in Penang, which is my hometown, we decided to pray for the family’s good health and also for my daughter to get through her Primary Six exam with flying colours.

Volunteers arranging lotus candles at the Mahindarama Buddhist temple.Volunteers arranging lotus candles at the Mahindarama Buddhist temple.

“We came on Sunday to make our donations for the candle-lighting ceremony and we will attend the actual ceremony on Wesak Day to light the candles,” she said.

Devotees were also seen bringing rice packets, bee hoon and oil to the temple.

At the Wat Chaiya Mangalaram Thai Buddhist temple in Lorong Burma, Pulau Tikus, volunteers were busy placing candles at the altar and cleaning the statue of the reclining Buddha.

Devotees too had started to throng the temple ahead of the celebrations today.

The Penang Wesak Celebration Day 2024 opening ceremony was held at Malaysian Buddhist Association’s premises.

Camy Leow was there with her mother, son and friends to pray for good health and peace.

“We always try to come earlier and pray because on the actual day, we usually head to another temple at Penang Hill.

“My mother never misses the festivities,” she said.

The Malaysian Buddhist Association’s celebrations saw the unveiling of the Buddha statue-bathing pavilion.

Guests enjoyed a Chinese orchestra music performance and viewed an art exhibition.

Chow, who was guest of honour, said the state government was co-organising the Wesak Day celebrations with Malaysian Buddhist Association.

“I extend my gratitude to the association for making Wesak Day celebrations in Penang a significant event that attracts not only devotees but tourists as well,” he said.

Penang Wesak Celebration Day 2024 chairman Venerable Seck Jit Heng said the theme this year was “Living Harmoniously, Thriving Society”.

Follow us on our official WhatsApp channel for breaking news alerts and key updates!

Wesak Day ,

   

Next In Metro News

Rapid KL introduces MyCity two-day pass
Lesser known varieties a hit with durian lovers
Selangor’s aviation show expected to generate RM1.3bil
Popular staples with global appeal
Nearly 500 nation-building initiatives for youths
Comforting chilli con carne
Mobile app for road-related complaints
Pawsome fun at pets carnival
Culinary meet promotes Malaysian cuisine among nearly 500 international participants
We are not just ‘lain-lain’

Others Also Read