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Sunday, 13 May 2018 00:00

A Solemn Buddha Day Celebration by All

Written by  Loh Siew Chien, Low Siew Lian & Chen Li Ping, Malacca / Translated by Ong Mooi Lin

Buddha Day Ceremony held on May 13, 2018 at Malacca Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall. [Photograph by Heng Ching Chuan]

Ever since Tzu Chi Chapters worldwide celebrate the joint occasion of Buddha Day, Mother's Day and Global Tzu Chi Day on the second Sunday of May each year, it has become a special date/occasion between Tzu Chi Malacca and the public. This year’s celebration was not only graced by Buddhist Dharma Masters, Catholic priests and nuns, but also the newly appointed Chief Minister of Malacca.


“Despite the morning shower that had turned the fields muddy, Tzu Chi volunteers worked in unity for this meaningful ceremony to run solemnly, exerting positive vibes into the atmosphere. I will remember this moment forever.” Although it was inconvenient to go out on a rainy day, public member, Lee Chwee Siant and her family members still turned up for the Buddha Day Ceremony, held on the premises of Tzu Chi Malacca on May 13, 2018.

The outdoor Buddha Bathing Ceremony at 7 am and the indoor Buddha bathing sessions, which took place until 4 pm, attracted an attendance of some 4,200 people, including seven Buddhist Dharma Masters, four priests, a pastor, three Catholic nuns, and the newly appointed Chief Minister of Malacca. It was indeed a sight of religious harmony.

Chief Minister looks forward to working closely with Tzu Chi

YAB Tuan Haji Adly bin Zahari, who was sworn in as the new Chief Minister of Malacca three days earlier, attended Tzu Chi’s Buddha Bathing Ceremony for the first time, and was warmly welcomed by all present.

The Chief Minister informed that he had witnessed Tzu Chi’s contributions to society through its volunteers’ dedication in providing timely support and relief to the east coast flood victims in 2015. He was amazed to learn about Tzu Chi’s missions, especially its work in environmental protection. He is looking forward to working closely with Tzu Chi to enhance environmental awareness in Malaccans, as it is also part of the Malacca State Government’s plan; and he also hopes that Malacca will become a model state in this aspect. He also promised to give support to Tzu Chi and work together to create a harmonious society.

Khoo Pay Tong, a listed Member of Parliament, who accompanied the new Chief Minister to the event, has participated in Tzu Chi’s Buddha Bathing Ceremony for years. He has known Tzu Chi for a long time and has heard about the development of Tzu Chi Malacca from its early days to its current scale. He also visited Master Cheng Yen in Hualien, Taiwan, back in 2005, and has admired Master’s noble character and compassionate missions for humanity.

He commented, “Tzu Chi is a Buddhist organization, which has carried out a lot of charitable and environmental work. It is one of the organizations in the state of Malacca that has done the best job, and is an example to emulate.”

A sight of religious harmony

“I am very touched indeed at this solemn ceremony. It is true that God loves the world because there were priests participating together in the Buddha Bathing Ceremony today. I felt like we are one big family, working together for a peaceful and harmonious society regardless of whether we are priests or Buddhist monastic practitioners..,” said Venerable Sheng Hua from Qing Ning Monastery, China, who was in Malacca to give a lecture. She has held Master Cheng Yen in great respect and hence, when she learnt about the event, she seized the opportunity to partake.

“Despite being a nun, Master Cheng Yen has undertaken great ‘Bodhisattva missions’ like a man. Her mannerism touched me deeply. Master Cheng Yen extends help to people around the world, spreads the message of Great Love and presents to the world the compassion of Guanyin Bodhisattva through Tzu Chi’s work in relieving suffering.”

The joint celebration of Buddha Day and Mother’s Day reminded Venerable Sheng Hua of her late mother. She remarked, “We must be very grateful to our parents for giving us this body that enables us to listen to the Dharma. Hence, it is crucial for us to be filial towards our parents and respectful towards the elders.”

Father Cyril, who was fascinated by volunteers’ sharing on environmental and life protection last year, attended this event again this year, together with Father Arul Mani. He said, “My good friend, a priest from India followed me around Malaysia to see how the different religions can achieve mutual respect.”

Father Arul Mani had participated in Buddhist activities back in India, but it was his first participation in Malaysia. He said, “I am very proud to be an Indian and I have always had great respect for the Buddha. Lord Buddha originated from my country. He told us that every person is capable of attaining Enlightenment and understands the true purpose of life.”

Attending the event in groups

Principal of Pusat Tuisyen Permata Pintar, Wong Mee Yuin, brought 20 primary students and 2 parents to the event. It has been the fourth year she had invited and led her students and their parents to Tzu Chi’s Buddha Bathing Ceremony.

As an educator, she believes that religious faith will guide one towards kindness. She felt that the Buddha Bathing Ceremony and other activities arranged at the event will impact the children positively. She shared humbly, “I hope the children will learn about Tzu Chi, and learn to fulfil their filial duties, show respect to their parents, love the Earth and embrace vegetarianism. I am also in the learning process.” The group toured the venue for about three hours and had vegetarian meals before leaving for home.

Fourteen elderly residents from Rumah Sejahtera Bukit Baru arrived at the venue with transport arranged by Tzu Chi. A Hindu assistant caretaker, Sulu a/p Achuthan, who has known Tzu Chi for many years but had never taken part in any of its activities, came along to learn more about Buddha bathing rituals.

She remarked, “Although I am not a Buddhist, I like the solemn and warm atmosphere at this ceremony very much. I hope more elderly residents will participate in such ceremony next year so that they can also share what I had experienced.”

Seventy-five-year-old Teu Ah Hong lives alone in Malacca while her elder sister resides in Singapore. She was in tears as she shared, “I am delighted to see many young, energetic people around here. Everyone greeted and extended blessings to us, and that touched me deeply.”

Memory stays after 18 years

Lai Kong Wah participated in Tzu Chi’s Buddha Day Ceremony when he was 18. Now 36, he attended the event again in a wheelchair, with a totally different feeling.

He said, “I was immature when I was younger and had not thought about learning Buddhism. Now, having experienced more things in life, I realized that it was all my fault.” In a light tone, he recounted that he attempted suicide three years ago, when he was faced with family, career and relationship issues. Although he was saved, he became a handicap. But now, life has become simpler and better for him.

He came into contact with Tzu Chi volunteers last year when the latter started to visit the SOCSO Rehabilitation Centre regularly to care for the patients. For this event, Kong Wah chose to participate in the earliest session for volunteers. He even made the effort to look for the “Verses for Bathing the Buddha” and copy them down on his notepad, which he brought to the event. He also brought his coin bank containing loose change totalling RM300 to emulate the kind acts he saw on Da Ai TV programme, where people donated money in their coin banks to Tzu Chi.
He said, “I have learnt about donation of loose change when I was 18. I remember it was for disaster relief. I believe this money will help many people.”

Live telecast of the event

This year, Tzu Chi Malacca media team made a new attempt in providing live telecast of the event through Facebook Live. The broadcaster, Ng Woan Chi had initially taken it as a means to promote and deliver the latest updates of the event to the public. However, while planning and preparing for the broadcast, she realized the significance of her role in promoting Buddhism.

She shared, “I hope that the explanations can help more people to better understand the significance of bathing the Buddha and developing interest in learning Buddhism.” The live telecast brought the audience through the Buddha Bathing Ceremony, which also serves to purify the mind; share how Master Cheng Yen began her spiritual practice and founded Tzu Chi with little but persistent contributions from 30 housewives; and how through material aid and sincere emotional support, Tzu Chi inspires the care recipients to break through difficulties and learn to give. In conjunction with the 3-in-1 celebration, the audience was also reminded of the parents’ kindness, and to practise recycling and observe a vegetarian diet to repay the kindness of all sentient beings.

Woan Chi, who is a science graduate, informed that due to a lack of understanding, she had mistaken folk belief as Buddhism and thought that Buddhists teachings were illogical and not scientific. Later, through her involvements in Tzu Chi and practice of Buddhist teachings in her daily life, her mindset changed. She also transformed from a self-centred person into one who will think of others, do kind deeds and serve humanity. To her, this is the greatest and most significant change in her life.

 

 

The Principal of Pusat Tuisyen Permata Pintar, Wong Mee Yuin (1st left) led a group of 20 primary students and 2 parents to the Buddha Day Ceremony. [Photograph by Ng Hock Thai]   Tzu Chi Malacca media team broadcasted the event on Facebook Live. Volunteer Ng Woan Chi took the role of broadcaster. [Photograph by Ng Hock Thai]

The Principal of Pusat Tuisyen Permata Pintar, Wong Mee Yuin (1st left) led a group of 20 primary students and 2 parents to the Buddha Day Ceremony. [Photograph by Ng Hock Thai]
 
Tzu Chi Malacca media team broadcasted the event on Facebook Live. Volunteer Ng Woan Chi took the role of broadcaster. [Photograph by Ng Hock Thai]
 
Venerable Sheng Hua (1st right), Father Cyril (2nd left) and Father Arul Mani (2nd right) took part in the Buddha Bathing Ceremony together. [Photograph by Chin Fook Kuen]   The Buddha Bathing Ceremony was attended by people of different races and age groups. [Photograph by Hong Geok Hui]

Venerable Sheng Hua (1st right), Father Cyril (2nd left) and Father Arul Mani (2nd right) took part in the Buddha Bathing Ceremony together. [Photograph by Chin Fook Kuen]
 
 
The Buddha Bathing Ceremony was attended by people of different races and age groups. [Photograph by Hong Geok Hui]
 
The new Chief Minister of Malacca, YAB Tuan Haji Adly bin Zahari, visited Tzu Chi premises for the first time. [Photograph by Yong Siew Lee]   Khoo Pay Tong, listed Member of Parliament, has been taking part in Tzu Chi’s Buddha Day Ceremony almost every year. [Photograph by Ng Hock Thai]

The new Chief Minister of Malacca, YAB Tuan Haji Adly bin Zahari, visited Tzu Chi premises for the first time. [Photograph by Yong Siew Lee]
 
 
Khoo Pay Tong, listed Member of Parliament, has been taking part in Tzu Chi’s Buddha Day Ceremony almost every year. [Photograph by Ng Hock Thai]
 
Sulu a/p Achuthan took part in the Buddha Day Ceremony for the first time. Despite her Hindu faith, she immersed herself in the warm and solemn atmosphere. [Photograph by Alex Tan Ah Lek]   Having learnt from Da Ai TV programme that many people donate their savings in coin banks to support Tzu Chi’s charitable work, Lai Kong Wah did the same by bringing his coin bank filled with loose change totalling RM300. [Photograph by Hong Geok Hui]

Sulu a/p Achuthan took part in the Buddha Day Ceremony for the first time. Despite her Hindu faith, she immersed herself in the warm and solemn atmosphere. [Photograph by Alex Tan Ah Lek]
 
 
Having learnt from Da Ai TV programme that many people donate their savings in coin banks to support Tzu Chi’s charitable work, Lai Kong Wah did the same by bringing his coin bank filled with loose change totalling RM300. [Photograph by Hong Geok Hui]