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Sunday, 08 January 2017 00:00

An Inspired Indian Year-end Blessing Ceremony

Written by  Low Hai Loon, Koh Poo Leng & Soon Fock Chuan, Klang / Translated by Ong Mooi Lin

A recurring knee injury did not stop Thiru (centre) from performing as he played a significant role as the leader of the Dharma vessel. Enduring his pain to make the performance a success, his spirit was admired by all. [Photograph by Ng Su Lim]

All the performers on stage bowed synchronously with palms together when the song, “Putting Vows into Action” was over. After retreating to the backstage, all of them were hugging each over with joy and relief that the performance came through successfully.


Volunteers from the English-speaking Group had practised incessantly for more than two months, overcoming many obstacles to give an awe-inspiring performance at Year-end Blessing Ceremony held on January 8, 2017, for the Indian community. The great applause from the audience at the end made their hard work and efforts well worthwhile.

Overcoming difficulties with perseverance

Out of the 20 performers in this sutra adaptation performance, there were Indian as well as Chinese volunteers who were not well-versed in Chinese. According to Teo Sau Hoon, “The first challenge was to make side notes of the pronunciations (Hanyu pinyin) for the song, ‘Putting Vow into Action’ together with its English translation for clearer understanding.” She wanted to capture the essence of the song.

More than 60% of the performers were female and to ensure the success of conveying the persevering spirit of Venerable Master Jian Zhen in his mission of spreading the Dharma to the East, the performers had to repeatedly practise their movements. This was not an easy task, and such high self-expectations left the performers under high pressure.

Sau Hoon continued, “My next challenge was my problematic knee as the performance required a lot of squatting motion.”

Despite all these challenges, she decided to go ahead. She found that her knees held up well during the actual performance even though it was difficult during the practices. Perhaps her vows had something to do with it!

Mangasuri, an Indian volunteer who is not Chinese literate, shared her opinion that a mistake by anyone in positioning would jeopardize the overall beauty of the performance. She urged herself constantly, “Be it in the office or at home, I would run through the song and practise the moves in my mind repeatedly to memorize by heart.”

After successfully completing the performance despite the language barrier, her experiential learning was, “So long as we think positively with the willingness to learn, challenges can be overcome, and things will work out fine.”

Vow to liberate sentient beings

“Remember that each movement must be firm, bow-bent on the left foot, and straighten the right foot with confidence,” a volunteer instructed Thiruchelvam a/l Muthoo, who followed somehow tensely. He shared, “My knee injury from a previous car accident started acting up again during the rehearsals.”

Standing at the forefront position of the Dharma vessel formation, which symbolized a leader, he understood the significance of his role, hence, endured his pain to stay focus on every move and details with accuracy.

“I didn’t understand the meaning of the song in the beginning, so I saved the video of a previous performance in my hand phone so as to play it whenever I was free,” said Thiru. As a school bus driver, while waiting to pick up the students after school, he would play the video and practise accordingly in the bus. He would even practise many times before bedtime until he was tired out.

Having certified as a Tzu Cheng Faith Corps member in Taiwan end of last year, Thiru vowed, “Volunteers informed me during practices that being at the front of the Dharma vessel indicates leadership. I wish to inspire more to follow Master Cheng Yen’s footsteps in charitable work. The more, the greater, isn’t it?” Thiru expressed his New Year resolution.

A performance of fewer than five minutes had required much perseverance by the 20 volunteers in the past two over months in overcoming various challenges. Many jokingly said that they had never done so much kneeling in their entire life. The Year-end Blessing Ceremony with sutra adaptation performance by the English-speaking Group has certainly provided food for the soul for everyone.

Love and care in circulation

This was the second year for Tzu Chi Klang in organizing a Year-end Blessing Ceremony for the Indian community, receiving 160 audiences from Klang, Subang, Puchong and other areas within Klang Valley. This was an opportunity for Tzu Chi donors who were not Chinese literate to receive blessings and gain a better understanding of Tzu Chi’s charitable missions at a national and international level in 2016.

This year’s event began with the sutra adaptation performance of “Putting Vows into Action”. The powerful movements of the performers stirred up the spirit in the audience. The video footages recollecting Tzu Chi’s international and local activities in the past year, with images of volunteers helping out in disaster areas, touched and warmed the hearts of many.

Karen Chee, an audience, shared the same sentiment. Shedding tears while watching the reviews, she expressed, “I am a sentimental person. Watching the volunteers helping in the disaster areas in a systematic and orderly manner was admirable.” She was touched from the beginning of the event when volunteers presented the sutra adaptation performance.

“A few of my friends who are performing invited me here today. I understand that the acts and moves in the performance were tough given their seniority in age. The rehearsals must have been challenging for them. But through the performance, I understood the message conveyed, that is, no matter the kind of challenges, they can be overcome with determination and perseverance, together with the concerted efforts of many people,” Karen added.

Meenachi a/p Subramaniam, a volunteer-in-training, was once very active in various Tzu Chi’s activities but due to health problems and work, she was missing-in-action for one-and-a-half-year. As such, she came as a member of the public in the audience.

Watching the solemn performance of “Putting Vows into Action”, and seeing the pictures of an aged and frail Master Cheng Yen, she was extremely touched and struck by remorse especially when she recalled her previous active days in Tzu Chi.
 
“I am happy to have attended the ceremony today because it evoked my initial aspiration while recalling my past involvements. I would have been one of the performers too had I stayed on,” Meenachi said regretfully in tears. Holding the red packet of blessings tightly, she vowed firmly to contribute her effort again.

Mariayee came along for the event with her daughter, who is a Tzu Chi volunteer. Watching attentively and holding the red packet of blessings, she was beaming with joy. “I didn’t stop my daughter from joining as I know Tzu Chi is doing good things. Today’s programme proved that I was right when I witnessed many Tzu Chi volunteers going all out to help others. That is truly marvellous, and I am very happy,” Mariayee remarked.

Children of Letchumy a/p Gunasegaran are beneficiaries of Tzu Chi’s Happy Schooling Scheme. She is grateful to Tzu Chi for smoothening their study paths. In return, she had responded to volunteers’ call for recycling by collecting recyclables such as bottles and cans on her way to work and sending them to the recycling point at Padang Jawa flats. Besides safeguarding the Earth, she wanted to reciprocate the kindness shown to her.



Before the closing of the event, every member of the audience went on stage in an orderly manner to receive a red packet of blessings. When releasing the gold thread to open the red packet, golden rice seeds would appear, reflecting the positive outlook and well wishes for the New Year, be it from the performing volunteers or the members of the public.

 

Volunteers of English-speaking Group performed sign language at the Year-end Blessing Ceremony for the Indian community, conveying the persevering spirit of Venerable Master Jian Zhen. [Photograph by Ng Su Lim]   On January 8, 2017, Tzu Chi Klang organized for the second year, a Year-end Blessing Ceremony for the Indian community which received 160 audience. [Photograph by Lee Eng Foo]

Volunteers of English-speaking Group performed sign language at the Year-end Blessing Ceremony for the Indian community, conveying the persevering spirit of Venerable Master Jian Zhen. [Photograph by Ng Su Lim]
 
On January 8, 2017, Tzu Chi Klang organized for the second year, a Year-end Blessing Ceremony for the Indian community which received 160 audience. [Photograph by Lee Eng Foo]
 
Teo Sau Hoon (centre) overcame language barrier to fully prepare herself for the performance. [Photograph by Lee Wei Kean]   Despite language barrier, Mangasuri believed that with positive mindset and willingness to learn, one could achieve his/her goal in spite of challenges. [Photograph by Ng Su Lim]

Teo Sau Hoon (centre) overcame language barrier to fully prepare herself for the performance. [Photograph by Lee Wei Kean]
 
 
Despite language barrier, Mangasuri believed that with positive mindset and willingness to learn, one could achieve his/her goal in spite of challenges. [Photograph by Ng Su Lim]
 
Once an active Tzu Chi volunteer, Meenachi, attended as an audience this year. It evoked her early aspirations and she vowed to return to cultivate blessings together with the volunteers again. [Photograph by Lee Wei Kean]   As Letchumy’s children have benefitted from the Tzu Chi’s Happy Schooling Scheme, and moved by such kindness, she has been donating all proceeds from selling recyclables to Tzu Chi to help others in needs. [Photograph by Lee Wei Kean]

Once an active Tzu Chi volunteer, Meenachi, attended as an audience this year. It evoked her early aspirations and she vowed to return to cultivate blessings together with the volunteers again. [Photograph by Lee Wei Kean]
 
 
As Letchumy’s children have benefitted from the Tzu Chi’s Happy Schooling Scheme, and moved by such kindness, she has been donating all proceeds from selling recyclables to Tzu Chi to help others in needs. [Photograph by Lee Wei Kean]
 
Audience Karen Chee was deeply touched by volunteers’ selfless love in rendering assistance to those suffering at disaster areas, as well as the spirit of perseverance in the performance of “Putting Vow into Action”. [Photograph by Lee Eng Foo]   Volunteer Low Guan Huatt bent humbly to present a red packet of blessing to an Indian wheelchair-bound attendee. [Photograph by Lee Wei Kean]

Audience Karen Chee was deeply touched by volunteers’ selfless love in rendering assistance to those suffering at disaster areas, as well as the spirit of perseverance in the performance of “Putting Vow into Action”. [Photograph by Lee Eng Foo]
 
 
Volunteer Low Guan Huatt bent humbly to present a red packet of blessing to an Indian wheelchair-bound attendee. [Photograph by Lee Wei Kean]
 
The 2016 Year-end Blessing Ceremony for the Indian community ended with everyone smiling joyously. [Photograph by Ng Su Lim]  

The 2016 Year-end Blessing Ceremony for the Indian community ended with everyone smiling joyously. [Photograph by Ng Su Lim]