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Sunday, 11 May 2014 00:00

The 2014 Celebration of Buddha Day, Mother’s Day and Tzu Chi Day

Written by  Tzu Chi KL & Selangor Documenting Team / Translated by Chong Pei Fen

May 11 marked a historical milestone of Tzu Chi KL & Selangor Branch. Apart from the 2014 Mass Buddha Bathing Ceremony, it was also the open day of KL Jing-Si Hall. [Photograph by Lee Kok Keong]

May 11 marked a historical milestone of Tzu Chi KL & Selangor Branch. Apart from the 2014 Mass Buddha Bathing Ceremony, it was also the open day of KL Jing-Si Hall, which is near completion after four years of construction work. More than 20,000 volunteers and members of the public were attracted to the 12-hour long event, and the volunteers prayed sincere piously under the lead of 28 Dharma masters from three main schools of Buddhism.


The annual Buddha Day celebration, with the theme “Accumulate blessings through faith and vigilance; purify human mind through diligent cultivation” this year, received 269 buses that transport people from respective communities of Tzu Chi KL & Selangor Branch and Klang Liaison Office. Besides participating in the Buddha Bathing ceremony, the volunteers and members of the public also took the chance to observe the design and facilities of the KL Jing-Si Hall, listen to the inspiring talks on achieving happiness in life, and participate in the parent-child interaction activities, including a filial piety activity where the children were asked to clean their parents’ feet to express their respect and love for their parents.

For the past six years, Tzu Chi KL & Selangor Branch had been holding the Buddha Bathing ceremony in sport complexes. This year, with the ceremony being held at the KL Jing-Si Hall, it is hoped that more members of the public would be drawn to the ceremony under such wondrous affinity and come together with their kin to share the Dharma joy of the three-in-one celebration of Buddha Day, Mother’s Day and Tzu Chi Day.

A Solemn and Awe-inspiring Ceremony

One of the characteristic of the event this year was “attaining wisdom through variables”. Despite given a short amount of time, the volunteers spared no efforts to present the best they could to welcome the members of the public to join in the first ever Buddha Bathing ceremony at the KL Jing-Si Hall. The Jing-Si Hall with a total area of about five acres has limited spaces for Buddha Bathing outdoors, especially since the shape of the compound is irregular. Nevertheless, the planning team was able to come up with 12 Buddha Bathing sections in the shapes of circle, semi-circle, rectangular, square and so on after careful planning. Although the entire formation did not resemble any specific design, the ceremony was solemn and awe-inspiring.

At 7 am, 12 lines of volunteers slowly moved from the surrounding peripherals and merged into the formation consisting of some 4,300 volunteers, as the song “Infinite Dharma” filled the air. The moving lines were like streams of pure Dharma water that nourish the devotees’ hearts, leading them to immerse themselves in the ceremony with reverence.

After witnessing the sublime Buddhist ritual of offering performed by the volunteers – offering of lights to illuminate the world, offering of water that symbolizes Dharma water to purify the hearts of sentient beings, and offering of flowers to fill the world with the fragrance of the Dharma; 28 Dharma masters from the Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana schools of Buddhism led the volunteers to “bow to the Buddha, receive scented flower and blessing” to express their utmost gratitude to the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha; parents and teachers; as well as all sentient beings.

Many were deeply moved as the Mass Buddha Bathing Ceremony was upon completion. With the mass singing the song “Adopting a Sincere Vegetarian Lifestyle”, the volunteers in the concentric circles moved in clockwise and counterclockwise directions respectively, depicting a Dharma wheel that keeps rotating; while the volunteers in other sections performed a sign language, portraying all Bodhi trees sharing the same root. It is hoped that through the collective good will of everyone, the world would be peaceful and free from disasters.

The solemn ceremony concluded with the song “Our Earnest Prayer”, followed by a bow to express utmost reverence to the Buddha with a heart of genuine sincerity.

Doused in Dharma Joy

Dharma Master Ming Jue from Puchong Pu Men Shan Tau Buddhist Temple has participated in Tzu Chi’s Buddha Bathing ceremony for a few times. This year, Master Ming Jue accepted Tzu Chi’s invitation and participated again in the Buddha Bathing ceremony with a joyful heart.

“I’m awed by the imposing appearance of the building the moment I stepped into the Jing-Si Hall.” Master Ming Jue said with such solemnity, the Jing-Si Hall could effectively lead the people to take a pause out of their increasingly fast-paced life, calm their hearts, and chant and do good deeds.

Recommended by his disciples in KL, Lama Jimpo from Nipel participated in Tzu Chi’s Buddha Bathing ceremony for the first time. “I’ve never seen such beautiful formation in a Buddha Bathing ceremony. Everyone is so disciplined and sincere throughout the process. I’m very impressed.” The devotees should feel blessed and make good use of the solemn Jing-Si Hall in a busy city like KL for cultivation of oneself.

Lin Ding Jiao, who brought her three children to participate in the Buddha Day celebration, was stirred and moved as she witnessed the Mass Buddha Bathing Ceremony from the spectator viewing area. The scene reminded her of her late mother. “Last December, when my mother was sick, I would go over to her place and stay overnight to take care of her and keep her companied every day after I’d settled down my children. The next day, I would rise early in the morning and rush home to send my children to school and do some household chores.” She had undergone such life for five months, until her mother passed away a month ago; and she felt more and more lost, could not find peace of mind but to keep thinking of her late mother.

At this moment, as Lin viewed the ceremony from the viewing area, her mother was no longer by her side. Recalling her late mother, tears welled up and ran down her cheeks. “I hope to contribute in Tzu Chi’s activities in the future, to show my gratitude and as remembrance of my mother.”

Receiving Groups from School and Reporters

Among the crowd were 74 teachers, students and their guardians from SJK(T) Vivekananda. It was the first time that the Tamil primary school organized a trip to participate in Tzu Chi’s Buddha Bathing ceremony. As the school principal and teachers acknowledge Tzu Chi’s principles, apart from setting up a recycling point in the school, close to 90% of the teachers and students in the school have become Tzu Chi donating members.

Xu Liang Bo, a reporter from Sin Chew Daily, has known about Tzu Chi since his time in university, and it was the fourth time he was assigned to report on Tzu Chi’s Buddha Bathing event. Xu expressed that the Buddha Bathing ceremony is an event that is filled with gratitude. He was captivated every time he participated in the event. He also felt that the ceremony was all the more dignified as it was held at the Jing-Si Hall this year, and the participants could be more immersed in the ceremony.

Xu, who lives nearby, has witnessed the construction of the Jing-Si Hall from the ground up, as he passed by the construction site weekly. Thus, he felt a sense of familiarity to report about the event held at the Jing-Si Hall. He was also in favour of Tzu Chi’s arrangement to celebrate the three occasions of Buddha Day, Mother’s Day and Tzu Chi Day on the same day.

Mindful Planning to Ensure Impeccable Execution

The volunteers were faced with challenges in the coordination of the public Buddha Bathing session and tour of the Jing-Si Hall, as 1,500 members of the public were expected to turn up at the Jing-Si Hall at each interval. So, the volunteers carefully planned the flow of people so that it would be orderly despite the large crowd.

The volunteers who took the role as outdoor ushers were divided into two groups; led by 14 group leaders, they took turns to assume their duties every alternate hour. Heng Sui Chuang, the team leader of outdoor ushers, was relief that some of the buses that brought members of the public arrived at the Jing-Si Hall early, as this allowed the crowd to be more manageable, and so, the situation was not as chaotic as what he had expected. With seamless coordination among the 70 team members, they were able to ensure that the members of the public entered the premise of the Jing-Si Hall in files.

Yap Poh Wee, the team leader of indoor ushers, led 80 volunteers from the Tzu Chi Teachers’ Association and 70 other volunteers to perform their duties. Although it was a bit chaotic at first, as the Mass Buddha Bathing Ceremony ended earlier than expected and the crowd swarmed into the Hall before the volunteers were fully ready, the team was quick to respond and managed to keep the situation under control. Despite receiving some 2,000 visitors within the first hour the Jing-Si Hall was opened to the public, Yap was confident that with great teamwork, they could cope without much difficulty.

Besides, as the Jing-Si Hall is located along the main road, with many shop lots nearby, it presented a great challenge to the logistic team in making arrangements for the parking of buses and cars. To deal with this, the logistic team set up four car parks around the Jing-Si Hall, reserved the road in front of the Jing-Si Hall as a drop off zone, and mobilized 80 volunteers to be on duty. Although faced with the challenge of limited parking spaces, the team leader, Jee Say Loo, tried as much as he could to come up with a satisfying plan, in hope that the members of the public could be dropped off in front of the Jing-Si Hall. This was to allow them to feel the solemnity of the Jing-Si Hall upon arrival, and would in turn, give rise to reverence and take part in the Buddha Bathing ceremony, and then join in the tour of the Jing-Si Hall.

Another challenge of the logistic team was to strike a balance between avoiding disturbance to the residents staying nearby and at the same time, making sure that members of the public who would come for the event would not need to walk far to reach the Jing-Si Hall. Fortunately, the traffic control was smooth as of noon.

The Great Joy of Receiving Members of the Public to the Jing-Si Hall

Another team of volunteers on site was the medical team that was rather busy providing their service in the morning, as many volunteers who did not take their breakfast could not bear to stand long and were either feeling dizzy or fainted. Among them, Xu Wei Zhi, who was a Tzu Chi Collegiate Youth, was light-headed due to being unwell. She was taken by a volunteer to the medical consultation room to receive treatment from Dr. Lim Lian Cheoo.
“I knew how caring and mindful Tzu Chi volunteers are, so I was not afraid when I felt like I was fainting, because they would surely be people who would come to my aid.” She said, the doctor not only treated her based on her condition then, but also mindfully made in-depth inquiries about her health records.

Other than arranging doctors from Tzu Chi International Medical Association (TIMA) to provide consultations at the medical station, the medical team was also on standby to serve in any emergency cases. Moreover, there were six groups of St. John Ambulance members stationed at various locations.

The food preparatory team on the other hand, prepared 13,000 vegetarian “char siu bao” (steamed bun with barbecued mock meat fillings) and 6,000 “onigiri” (rice ball) formed into rectangular shape for the members of the public. Volunteer Tang Shook Lin, who started to undertake responsibilities in the food preparatory team since 2008, assumed the role as team leader this time. She deeply felt that she was inexperienced; luckily, there were 100 volunteers in the team who assisted her and shared her workload. “Back then, it was elsewhere and more difficult. This time, having it in our home, it feels really blissful.” Interestingly, the biggest challenge to Tang was not the food supply, but making the vegetarian steamed buns.

The caregiving team too, played an important role in the event. Other than setting up water and snack supply station at fixed locations, the team members also carried baskets filled with candies, vitamin C tablets and dried fruit snacks; pushed food carts with tea and pastries; carried cold towels; and walked around the premise to serve and care for other volunteers who were on duty.

Inspiring Talks and Activities

Besides Buddha Bathing ceremony, large crowds were drawn to the six sessions of inspiring talks on achieving happiness in life. Through sharing of life stories as well as their positive changes after joining Tzu Chi by five volunteers – Liao Shu Yu, Koh Yean Ping, Lee Lian Kian, Yeow Bing Wan and Tan Lee Choo, at different time slots, it is hoped that more people would be inspired to join the Great Love Movement of Tzu Chi.

Furthermore, there were also a series of activities at the exhibition hall, including video footage to introduce Buddha Day, sharing on cases of Tzu Chi’s care-recipients, sign language performance and promotion of foot-washing activity to encourage the mothers who came together with their children to experience the best Mother’s Day. To allow for more members of the public to join in the foot-washing activity, 50 pairs of parent and child were arranged to carry out the 10-minute foot-washing simultaneously. Although short in duration, it permeated strong parent-child bonding.

Yang Qiu Mei, a member of the public, was deeply touched by the activity. Other than giving her mother, Yu Yue Huan, a big hug, she also washed the feet of her mother. Deeply moved by her daughter’s action, Yue Huan said, “I’m very lucky that my children are all very filial. Seeing her washing my feet reminds me of the happy moments when I bathed her last time.” Yue Huan also repented for not being filial to her mother in the past.

The 2014 Buddha Bathing ceremony has come to an end. The KL Jing-Si Hall that was constructed with much anticipation from the volunteers and members of the public, not only bring a feeling of serenity and peace amidst the bustling city, but being the spiritual home of the volunteers, it also steers the volunteers to be steadfast in achieving the second “Million Bodhisattvas” target, a blessing from Master Cheng Yen.

 

The planning team came up with 12 sections in the shapes of circle, semi-circle, rectangular, square and so on for the Buddha Bathing ceremony. Although the sections came in various shapes, the ceremony was solemn and awe-inspiring. [Photograph by Lim Su Nguan]   The volunteers put their palms together and prayed sincerely for world peace as the song “Our Earnest Prayer” filled the air. [Photograph by Lee Kok Keong]

The planning team came up with 12 sections in the shapes of circle, semi-circle, rectangular, square and so on for the Buddha Bathing ceremony. Although the sections came in various shapes, the ceremony was solemn and awe-inspiring. [Photograph by Lim Su Nguan]
 
The volunteers put their palms together and prayed sincerely for world peace as the song “Our Earnest Prayer” filled the air. [Photograph by Lee Kok Keong]
 
More than 20,000 volunteers and members of the public were attracted to the 12-hour long event held at the KL Jing-Si Hall, which is near completion after four years of construction work. [Photograph by Yong Kar Chew]   The food preparatory team prepared 13,000 steamed buns and 6,000 rice balls formed into rectangular shape for the members of the public. [Photograph by Yong Kar Chew]

More than 20,000 volunteers and members of the public were attracted to the 12-hour long event held at the KL Jing-Si Hall, which is near completion after four years of construction work. [Photograph by Yong Kar Chew]
 
 
The food preparatory team prepared 13,000 steamed buns and 6,000 rice balls formed into rectangular shape for the members of the public. [Photograph by Yong Kar Chew]
 
Seventy-four teachers, students and their guardians from SJK(T) Vivekananda participated in Tzu Chi’s Buddha Bathing ceremony, a trip which the school organized for the first time. [Photograph by Gan Cheah Teck]   Five Tzu Chi volunteers shared their life stories as well as their positive changes after joining Tzu Chi in the six sessions of talks respectively, in hope to inspire more people to join the Great Love Movement of Tzu Chi. [Photograph by Wong Poh Fatt]

Seventy-four teachers, students and their guardians from SJK(T) Vivekananda participated in Tzu Chi’s Buddha Bathing ceremony, a trip which the school organized for the first time. [Photograph by Gan Cheah Teck]
 
 
Five Tzu Chi volunteers shared their life stories as well as their positive changes after joining Tzu Chi in the six sessions of talks respectively, in hope to inspire more people to join the Great Love Movement of Tzu Chi. [Photograph by Wong Poh Fatt]
 
“I’m awed by the imposing appearance of the building the moment I stepped into the Jing-Si Hall.” Master Ming Jue said with such solemnity, the Jing-Si Hall could effectively lead the people to take a pause out of their increasingly fast-paced life, calm their hearts, and chant and do good deeds. [Photograph by Wang Kum Choon]  

“I’m awed by the imposing appearance of the building the moment I stepped into the Jing-Si Hall.” Master Ming Jue said with such solemnity, the Jing-Si Hall could effectively lead the people to take a pause out of their increasingly fast-paced life, calm their hearts, and chant and do good deeds. [Photograph by Wang Kum Choon]
 

 

  Please view more snopshots of the event: The 2014 Celebration of Buddha Day, Mother’s Day and Tzu Chi Day