PAS: It’s still a no-go for Bon Odori

PETALING JAYA: While the Selangor Sultan has ordered the state’s religious authorities to allow the Bon Odori Festival to go on, Islamist party PAS is staying adamant that Muslims should stay away from the Japanese cultural fiesta in Shah Alam.

PAS’ ulama and women’s wing both said Muslims should not attend the July 16 event, claiming that the Japanese festival has elements of Buddhist rituals that could sway one’s akidah (faith).

“The PAS Ulama Council is urging Muslims not to attend the Bon Odori Festival because of the religious elements.

“Although there are views that say the festival is only related to Japanese culture, we feel it does not dismiss concerns that the event contains elements of Buddhist rituals.“This is in line with advisories by the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs) Datuk Idris Ahmad, mufti and other religious scholars.

“The reasoning that this is a Japanese cultural event does not carry enough merit to be considered,” said PAS Ulama chief Datuk Ahmad Yahya in a statement.

Ahmad said others should emulate the Kelantan government’s decision not to list the Bon Odori dance as a cultural performance in the Kelantan-Japan Cultural Festival 2022.

The PAS women’s wing also advised Muslims to stay away from the Bon Odori Festival as a move to “protect their aqidah”.

“Bon Odori is believed to be a Buddhist festival to honour ancestral spirits. The Japanese people celebrate the festival by returning to their hometowns and cleaning the graves of their ancestors and visiting altars belonging to their families.

“This custom has been practised since 500 to 600 years ago and includes the Bon Odori dance.

“As it is a religious festival, Muslims are advised to refrain from participating in it,” said the wing’s information chief Dr Najihatussalehah Ahmad in a separate statement.

Meanwhile, Perlis Mufti Datuk Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin has suggested that the name of the festival be changed to avoid confusion among Muslims.

“If possible, give it a new name, or another name in addition to Bon Odori, to prevent confusion with the original festival that has elements of syirik (polytheism) and khurafat (superstition).

“It can be named as the Japanese Cultural Festival, or the Japanese society,” Mohd Asri said in a Facebook post.

The Bon Odori Festival is scheduled to be held at the Shah Alam Sports Complex on July 16.

The issue came into the limelight when Idris, a PAS vice-president, said Muslims should steer clear of the event.

However, Selangor ruler Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah issued an order to the Selangor Islamic Department (Jais) not to forbid Muslims from attending the festival.

The Sultan reiterated that the festival was a cultural celebration that has been in Malaysia for decades.

The Ruler also told Idris, Jais and Shah Alam City Hall officers to attend the festival to get a true picture of the event.

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