GEORGE TOWN: Devotees will have to mark Wesak Day at home this year because of the Covid-19 pandemic but it is no less meaningful or religious.
Housewife Ally Lim will be offering prayers to Lord Buddha at home for the first time.
The 50-year-old who observes Wesak Day celebrations without fail each year was seen dropping off fresh flowers at the Mahindrama Buddhist Temple in Kampar Road yesterday.
“I’ll observe Wesak Day quietly at home with chants and prayers. Every year, we would visit Buddhist temples but since we could not enter the temple premises this year, we decided to present flowers before the Buddha altar as a form of respect.
“Then, we will return home and chant prayers on our own, ” she added.
In the past, devotees would throng various temples to offer homage to Lord Buddha and participate in ceremonies such as chanting of verses, blessing and sprinkling of holy water by monks, dana (offering of food to monks and nuns) and the bathing of young Prince Siddhartha’s image.
However, the Malaysian Buddhist Association (MBA) had advised devotees to offer prayers at home following the cancellation of the annual Wesak Day celebrations.
Its honorary secretary Rev Ji Zun was quoted as saying all members of Buddhist organisations and devotees could meditate, chant and bathe Buddha statues at home during the two-day celebrations yesterday and today.
The MBA had prepared two series of online programmes for the celebration, including live interviews on MBA’s Facebook page at 9am today.
At the Mahindrama Buddhist Temple, there was little activity as only its resident monks were seen moving around and carrying out daily prayers.
Its Chief monk Venerable Elgiriye Indaratana Maha Thero said there would be no mass gatherings or chanting sessions on Wesak Day this year.
“Wesak Day this year will be different although the most important thing is to commemorate Buddha in our hearts, observe the precepts and Buddha’s teachings.
“It is important for everyone to stay at home as much as possible to help prevent the spread of this virus, ” he said when met at the temple yesterday.
Ven Elgiriye said that although temple visits were not allowed this year, prayers could still be carried out at home.
“We receive over 30,000 devotees during Wesak Day but this year they can recite sutras or prayers anywhere at home, including in front of their altars, ” he said.
Ven Elgiriye said the monks would usually carry out prayers three sessions a day, adding that the chants would start at 6am, 11.30am and 8pm.
“Devotees may join in at home at these times. Together, we can wish for the world to recover soon and for everyone to continue living through the current times with a calm mind.”Notices that the celebration would not be held this year have also been put up at the Wat Chaiya Mangalaram Temple and Dhammikarama Burmese Buddhist Temple in Burma Lane.
Meanwhile, Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the MBA and the Penang Wesak Celebrations Committee had decided to cancel the annual Wesak Day procession.
“In order to stop the spread of the virus, all religious activities and celebrations have been cancelled under the movement control order (MCO). This is something unprecedented.
“During this difficult time Buddhist organisations and Buddhists in Malaysia still persevered with the mindset of giving back to the community by raising resources for the needy.
“Such efforts have reduced much pressure for the government’s anti-pandemic work.
“This spirit is truly praiseworthy, ” he said.
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