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Friday, 31 August 2018 11:56

An Evening Filled with Great Love

Written by  Yo Choon Yen & Kiang Miew Tiang, Muar / Translated by Lee Hung Jiew

Tzu Chi Muar organized the “20 Years of Great Love Musical Dinner” at Bakri Junction Ballroom, to raise funds for the construction of Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall in Muar. Picture shows everyone singing “We Are One Family”. [Photograph by Lim Mui Hock]

For the third year, Tzu Chi Muar hosted a fundraising dinner for the construction of Muar Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall. In addition to the performances, something special was prepared this time round. Local and overseas chefs gathered to prepare “Eight Treasure Box” for the kind-hearted donors. The scene was filled with love and the joy of selfless giving.


On August 31, 2018, a day when Malaysians celebrate our National Day, Tzu Chi Muar held a fundraising dinner themed, “20 Years of Great Love Musical Dinner”. The dinner was held at Bakri Junction Ballroom, to raise funds for the construction of Muar Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall. More than 300 volunteers were involved in preparing the dinner of 166 tables. They also welcomed Dharma Masters, Minister, government officials, and people from all walks of life who came together to contribute for a good cause.

As the national anthem blared out, around 2,000 people at the venue jointly wished their motherland peace and harmony. Minister of Energy, Technology, Science, Climate Change and Environment, Yeo Bee Yin, took the time to attend. She said that every charitable organization is helpful to the building of our nation. As long as every individual plays their different roles and encourage every class of society to do their best, it is the best contribution to the country. She enjoyed the cultural ambience and felt the peace and calmness.

It was indeed a very distinct National Day this year! Tzu Chi Muar has gone through 20 years. The groundbreaking ceremony of the Jing Si Hall was held on May 27, 2017. On April 22, 2018, the Municipal Council issued an official permit and the construction officially started on July 27.

Volunteers were particularly excited to hear the piling sounds coming from the construction site, as it means a long-awaited progress! The sounds also served as a reminder to everyone that “We have started building our home, we must work harder to pay for each tile and brick.” Everyone is looking forward to the emergence of the spiritual pagoda three years later.

Spreading Great Love through music

At the venue of the fundraising dinner, and regardless of their nationality, local and overseas chefs gathered to contribute their culinary skills for charity and cooked up delicious meals for the attendees. On stage, performers gave their best and most creative acts, conveying their love through the rhythms and their voices.

Culture Shot, a band formed by six members from the three major ethnic groups of Malay, Chinese and Indian, was also present to showcase a multi-cultural musical performance. They performed using traditional instruments, such as, Er Hu, Hokkien Lang Tin Tang, Malay Gendang and Gong. The unique combination demonstrated the multi-racial make-up of our country, bringing joyful and harmonious music to all the guests.

The band also played “We Are One Family”, while the veteran volunteers, who have witnessed the growth of Tzu Chi Muar for over 15 years, sang in unison on stage: “Because we are one family, we are together, so grateful you are with me…”

Then, there was the sand art performance by a sand artist, Loong Bee. Along with the background music played by guitar instructor, Tan Sen Meng, the sand artist sprinkled sand on the light box to create one painting after another, telling the origin and future vision of the Jing Si Hall.

Spreading messages of goodness vocally

Music can reconcile the mind and body. The lyrics of Tzu Chi songs describe the goodness and beauty in Tzu Chi and convey the teachings of Master Cheng Yen.

Vocalist Tan Soo Suan performed four songs, spreading messages of goodness through her singing. When 22 students from Tzu Chi’s tuition class went on stage to sing the song “It Was You” with her, it deeply touched her heart. She looked forward to the completion of the Jing Si Hall in three years, so that these children will have a better learning environment.

“I know Tzu Chi has eight-treasure porridge, and this eight-treasure box is here today! It is very creative and displays Tzu Chi’s humanistic culture.” When she learnt that the vegetarian feast was the work of 61 local and overseas chefs, who skilfully prepared vegetarian food to fit into the eight-treasure boxes, she was really impressed and moved.

Besides spreading the Dharma through her voice, Soo Suan also hoped to promote Jing-Si food products to others. She sang the song, “Tailoring Room of the Monastics”, which describes the family tradition of Jing Si, telling stories of assiduous efforts and hardships experienced by the Dharma Masters at the Jing Si Abode. As she was singing, volunteers served up desserts prepared with Jing-Si food products, so that everyone could taste the healthy products which can be consumed with peace of mind.

The biscuits were prepared by a volunteer, Ng Bee Teen. When she heard that she needed to make some snacks using Jing-Si food products, she started experimenting. Being an experienced dessert-maker, she experimented with different recipes and invited many people to taste and give their feedbacks. She was happy to be able to make the delicious biscuits for all the attendees as she considered it a blessing to be able to develop good affinities with many people through the biscuits.

Fulfilling filial duty and benefitting mankind

When Er Cheong Sia learnt about the fundraising dinner from the newspapers, he called up for further details. Originally, he intended to make a donation by acquiring a Lotus Chair. However, upon receiving further details, he decided to make a donation for Tzu Chi Honorary Board Member (see Note) over a period of three years. The donation was made in honour of his mother, as one way of fulfilling his filial duties.

“While I have the ability and the opportunity, I should grab it, do good deeds and be filial to my parents.” Cheong Sia, originally from Muar, spends most of his time working in Johor Bahru and seldom has time to be by his mother’s side. When he learnt about the construction of the Jing Si Hall in Muar, he felt that it was a great opportunity. After discussing with his wife and children, they decided to do good deeds in honour of his elderly mother, wishing her good health for years to come.

Cheong Sia’s children are volunteers with Tzu Chi Chapters in the US and Singapore respectively. Thus, although he is not a Tzu Chi volunteer, he is no stranger to Tzu Chi. Through his children’s frequent sharing, he and his wife knew that Tzu Chi is a charitable organization, and Jing Si Hall is a spiritual home for all to acquire peace of mind and body. He also attended an entrepreneurs’ camp organized by Tzu Chi in Taiwan about seven years ago, and visited Tzu Chi premises in Suzhou, China.

He felt that it is a blessing to be able to contribute to the construction of the Jing Si Hall. He believes that upon completion of Jing Si Hall, volunteers will have a more spacious and comfortable venue for various activities, to promote Tzu Chi’s missions, and inspire and benefit more people.

He smiled and said that it will be a good place for his mother to go, making her golden years more meaningful.

Madam Er, who was sitting beside him, listened quietly and smiled. She attended the event without knowing that her son had made a donation for her to be a Tzu Chi Honorary Board Member. Knowing her son’s filial piety, she was very pleased. She was also impressed by the idea of replacing traditional banquet with the eight-treasure box. She found it very special and well-prepared and gave her best all-round appraisal.

The eight-treasure box

As the chefs contributed on their free will, volunteers followed suit and became kitchen assistants. They presented the eight-treasure boxes to the guests of the night in an orderly manner. The guests were amazed by the creativity of the treasure box with eight specially-prepared vegetarian cuisines. They could not help but start to snap photos with their mobile phones, hoping to capture the deliciously-looking food for mementos.

The dinner gathered nine buses of participants from various Tzu Chi Chapters. Everyone came with smiles, and the atmosphere was filled with happiness, as if it was a happy family occasion.

Among the diners were volunteers from Tzu Chi Singapore who occupied six tables. They included Aiw Chye Seng, a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner-cum-entrepreneur, and his wife. They were both sponsors of a Lotus Chair. Chye Seng commented that the eight-treasure box excelled in all colours, smell and taste of the food, and the performances were very touching. The story about Tzu Chi volunteers accompanying school-going kids and providing tuition really moved him. He hopes that when the building of Jing Si Hall is completed in three years, it can provide a much better environment for the children to continue learning.

At the end of the programme, “The Song of Diligence” was performed using bells and drums. Everyone on stage united and showed their willingness to work on their missions, holding tight to their vows. Everyone is prepared to work hand-in-hand in building the Jing Si Hall, a great field of blessings, gathering the love from all around.

On their return journey, everyone held on to their eight-treasure box. Some said that they wanted to bring the “Treasure Box” home as souvenirs, while some wanted it as a gift box. A guest was even reluctant to eat, wanting to bring home to share the food with her mother.

Note: Years ago, Master Cheng Yen called upon all kind people to contribute towards the Tzu Chi Hospital Building Fund. In response to the Master’s appeal, Tzu Chi volunteers initiated every means to raise funds for this cause. Back then, NT$1 million was a huge amount. As the Master was very grateful to these patrons who had donated over NT$1 million, she appointed them as Tzu Chi Honorary Board Members to show her appreciation and commended their acts of kindness as a role model for everyone to emulate.

 

 

Diners snapping pictures of the eight-treasure box, hoping to capture the wonderful memory. [Photograph by Kang Miew Tiang]   Aiw Chye Seng (1st left) was deeply touched as he learnt about the efforts of volunteers accompanying tuition class students. [Photograph by Kang Miew Tiang]

Diners snapping pictures of the eight-treasure box, hoping to capture the wonderful memory. [Photograph by Kang Miew Tiang]
 
Aiw Chye Seng (1st left) was deeply touched as he learnt about the efforts of volunteers accompanying tuition class students. [Photograph by Kang Miew Tiang]
 
Amongst the guests seated at the 166 tables were Dharma Masters, Minister and government officials. [Photograph by Low Chung Chin]   Performers and chefs went on stage to thank the guests. Everyone waved and sent their blessings. [Photograph by Low Choon Hui]

Amongst the guests seated at the 166 tables were Dharma Masters, Minister and government officials. [Photograph by Low Chung Chin]
 
 
Performers and chefs went on stage to thank the guests. Everyone waved and sent their blessings. [Photograph by Low Choon Hui]
 
Vocalist Tan Soo Suan and 22 children from Tzu Chi’s tuition class went on stage to perform a song, “It Was You”. [Photograph by Lim Mui Hock]   Minister of Energy, Technology, Science, Climate Change and Environment, Yeo Bee Yin, took the time to attend. [Photograph by Ni Wen Zheng]

Vocalist Tan Soo Suan and 22 children from Tzu Chi’s tuition class went on stage to perform a song, “It Was You”. [Photograph by Lim Mui Hock]
 
 
Minister of Energy, Technology, Science, Climate Change and Environment, Yeo Bee Yin, took the time to attend. [Photograph by Ni Wen Zheng]
 
Er Cheong Sia attended with his wife (3rd left) and mother (2nd left). [Photograph by Ng Pei Sze]   Performance by the band Culture Shot, using traditional instruments of different ethnic groups. [Photograph by Ng Pei Sze]

Er Cheong Sia attended with his wife (3rd left) and mother (2nd left). [Photograph by Ng Pei Sze]
 
 
Performance by the band Culture Shot, using traditional instruments of different ethnic groups. [Photograph by Ng Pei Sze]
 
Soh Swee Choo, person-in-charge of Tzu Chi Muar, thanked all the guests for their support towards the construction of Muar Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall. [Photograph by Ng Pei Sze]  

Soh Swee Choo, person-in-charge of Tzu Chi Muar, thanked all the guests for their support towards the construction of Muar Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall. [Photograph by Ng Pei Sze]