SOME 5,000 devotees gathered at Dhammikarama Burmese Buddhist Temple on Burma Lane, Penang, for the grand opening of the Golden Pagoda Bell Tower.
Chants filled the air as the devotees paid homage to Buddha.
Joining the devotees were busloads of tourists and shutterbugs.
The opening of the 33m-high four-storey tower costing RM3mil started with a solemn procession.
It was led by the temple’s chief monk U Pannya Vamsa who was followed by some devotees carrying golden umbrellas, holy relics, precious items and other Buddhist artifacts.
Devotees from Myanmar were also seen in their traditional costumes, making the procession even more colourful and eye-catching.
Many of the devotees had a good time at the event which had traditional Myanmarese dances in front of the tower.
Temple trustee Yeap Theam Kwee, speaking to reporters after the opening ceremony yesterday, said that luckily, it was a nice and sunny day and this had attracted a large crowd.
“About 150 monks from countries such as Myanmar, Singapore, Japan, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, the United States and the United Kingdom were also at the event.”
Thai Consul-General Voradet Viravakin and his Japanese counterpart Tetsuro Kai were also present at the grand opening.
The tower, which was completed last month, was the brainchild of the chief monk who had a vision three years ago to bring in replicas of Buddhist shrines from other countries and feature them all under a single roof.
At the tower, visitors were able to admire the white marble wall sculptures of ancient Buddhist shrines from 22 countries like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Tibet, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Mongolia and Malaysia.
The tower occupies a built-up area of 697sq m in the temple grounds.
Its first three floors house Buddhist artifacts, relics, ornaments and Buddha images while the top floor has the dome, pagoda and temple bell.
Myanmarese devotee Khin Htay Nyunt, 58, said she came to Penang just to witness the golden tower’s opening.
“The tower is really beautiful and I feel blessed after praying in this place,” she said.
Visitors to the temple in the evening were treated to multi-cultural dance and song performances.