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Last updateWed, 11 Nov 2015 11am

Sunday, 10 May 2015 08:28

2015 Buddha Bathing Ceremony: Care and Love beyond Borders

Written by  Tzu Chi Documenting Team, KL & Selangor / Translated by Tan Heang Shin

Tzu Chi KL & Selangor and Klang jointly organized the celebration of Buddha’s Day, Mother’s Day and Tzu Chi’s Day at KL Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall, for a crowd of 12,000 people. [Photograph by Leong Chian Yee]

At the break of dawn, image of “The Awakened One” (Buddha) sprinkling Dharma water over mankind from a bowl held in one hand, and gently touching the Earth with the other, could be seen at the Buddha bathing platform. The water signifies wisdom, while the touch signifies compassion, both symbolizing His great love towards nature and all beings.


With flower fragrance in the air, and volunteers’ neat formation surrounding the Buddha bathing platform, praying reverently to the Buddha in gratitude for His teachings, public members immersed themselves in the pure stream of the Dharma that nourished their hearts.

Master Cheng Yen’s message this year was, “Tzu Chi flourishes because of Buddhism. It is hoped that everyone will spread the Buddha’s love to every corner in society, and join their hearts together to serve, irrespective of religion and race.”

On May 10, 2015, Tzu Chi KL & Selangor and Klang jointly organized the celebration of Buddha’s Day, Mother’s Day and Tzu Chi’s Day at KL Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall for 12,000 participants.

The crowd not only came for the dignified Buddha Bathing Ceremony, but also to witness Tzu Chi’s growth in 49 years (represented by a “TC49” formation) and charity footprint around the world. From the “Bamboo Bank Era” to an international NGO, every single step was challenging, yet Tzu Chi continues to tread step-by-step to pave its way towards its Charity Mission.

CEO of Tzu Chi KL & Selangor, Echo Chien said, “As the name suggests, Buddha’s Day commemorates the birth of Prince Siddhartha in the human world to become the Buddha, to put an end to suffering for all beings. Master Cheng Yen has combined the three celebrations in one to make it convenient for all to gather, as well as, to remind Tzu Chi people of Tzu Chi’s missions.”

Tzu Chi was founded based on Buddha’s teachings on extending love to all beings. As Buddha’s children, Tzu Chi people must always remember to follow the Buddha’s teachings. “Tzu Chi’s Day is merely a token, every day is a Tzu Chi’s Day when one contributes,” explained Echo Chien.

Apart from Buddha bathing, nine inspiring talks on achieving happiness in life were also held; and there was a blessings corner for Nepal and a foot-bathing section, to enable the visitors to feel the mind purifying effect besides feeling the grandeur of the Buddha Bathing Ceremony.

Sangha graced ceremony and led devotees

Seventy-seven Dharma Masters from Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana Schools of Buddhism were respectfully invited by the emcee to the Buddha bathing platform. With the Sangha gracing the solemn ceremony and the Buddhist chant filling the air, volunteers bowed and paid homage to the Sangha, hoping that the latter would lead the public members to fathom the Buddha’s teachings and be enlightened.

Chairman of Malaysian Buddhist Association (KL & Selangor), Venerable Ming Ji, praised the humanistic values displayed by Tzu Chi through the activities. He stated, “I could not make it last year but was one of the honourable guests at the ground-breaking ceremony of KL Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall a few years back. I am visiting officially today.”

Venerable Ming Ji pointed out that our current society, though developed, is facing a decline in morality and extreme conditions in the world. By holding Buddhist activities, it can arouse the right faith and right mindfulness within us, thus radiating a positive energy.

Khenpo Palden Rinpoche from Nepal indicated that when he led devotees to circumambulate a stupa in Kathmandu on April 25, the earthquake occurred. He commended Tzu Chi’s swift relief efforts; and when he arrived in Malaysia to give Dharma talks on April 30 and learnt about the Buddha Bathing Ceremony at KL Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall, he decided to participate. Seeing the dignified ceremony and orderly movements of the crowd, he expressed his wish to find out more about Tzu Chi upon his return to Nepal.

Great love trickled down, great minds think alike

Led by the volunteers, a few representatives from UNHCR Malaysia toured Jing Si Hall and participated in the ceremony. They included the Chief Representative, Richard Towle and his wife; Deputy Representative, Bryan Gorlick; and Medical Division Representative, Dr Susheela Balasundram. Except for the latter, the rest attended this event for the first time.

Richard was deeply impressed, “It was a splendid and solemn ceremony.” He was also fascinated by the building structure, which is full of humanistic value and sustainable concept. He said, “I seldom come across such a green religious site. After learning about the requirements for humanity and eco-friendliness in the design, I find that this is indeed a truly remarkable religious organization.”

The UNHCR representatives had visited the bamboo bank corner and foot-bathing section, accompanied by volunteers. Richard expressed his admiration for the “Bamboo Bank Era”, which promoted an act of kindness by the rich or poor, regardless of social class. He felt Tzu Chi’s missions have centred around this ideology, putting theory into practice.

Richard has thrown himself into UNHCR for 25 years. Being in Malaysia for over a year, he is satisfied with the collaboration with Tzu Chi on preschool education and medical aid to refugees. He said, “As an NGO, Tzu Chi has incorporated humanity and charity into their philosophy. Their professionalism in management has been at the forefront compared to many charitable organizations.”

As an Implementing Partner, Richard looks forward to a broader scope of cooperation with Tzu Chi on refugee issues. “There are 150,000 refugees in Malaysia and the number is on the increase every year. To take care of the refugees’ medical, education and welfare, UN cannot carry this burden alone. We need an organization like Tzu Chi to collaborate and complement us,” Richard added.

Parents’ kindness appreciated through foot-bathing

Forty-seven-year-old Carsten Loebel and his 14-year-old daughter, Mara, from Germany, were invited by friends to the ceremony. Although they have a tight schedule, they decided to attend out of curiosity. Due to cultural difference, his daughter had never bathed his father’s feet. The visit to Jing Si Hall had given them a novel experience.

After the foot-bathing, Mara hugged his father in tears. Carsten remarked, “I told my daughter, I hope she could bathe my feet every Sunday going forward.” He has excellent relationships with his son and daughter, and often travels with them abroad to expose them to diverse customs. Though hard to come by, this opportunity had presented them a different experience.

Eighty-nine-year-old Chen Xiu Lian has walking difficulty due a slip and fall three years ago. Although she used to refuse a wheelchair, she decided to use one this time in order to participate in the ceremony. Her family of three generations had also joined in.

“Along the way, you have all shown me kindness. You have all been kind indeed,” said Xiu Lian, who had felt the volunteers’ warmth upon arriving at the Jing Si Hall at six in the morning. Similarly, her daughter and son-in-law had also felt the warm hospitality.

Her daughter, Ma Yu Ling said, “When we walked on the road this morning, a volunteer saw us and after finding out we were on our way to Jing Si Hall, the volunteer gave us a lift.” The son-in-law, Zhou Zhao Jiang, stated that he will bring his mother-in-law over regularly in future as she likes the place.

Sincere care lives on in the face of impermanence

When the songs “Sincerely Pray for the Three Wishes” and “Love and Care for All” were sung, Li Shu Ling, who had just returned from Nepal, was emotional and tearful.

She related, “I was on my way from Kathmandu to Tibet when the earthquake happened. My first instinct was to hide in a building, fortunately the building was very strong. After the earthquake, I saw many dead bodies along the road. I felt it was a lucky escape for me.”

Retuning to Malaysia on a military aircraft, she then volunteered to contribute at the ceremony, hoping to seize the opportunity to serve before impermanence strikes again.

“God help Nepal,” 24-year-old Binod Limbu shared his thoughts after praying for his home country at the “Blessings Corner”. He has worked in Malaysia for two years and was invited by his employer to participate in the ceremony.

He was in his hometown, Nepal, processing some documents when the earthquake happened. He still trembled when relating the earthquake. He said, “I was at the airport and about to leave for Malaysia. There were strong shaking sensations every two minutes.”

Dropping a gift of love into the donation box, Binod said, “I do not know what I can do for them, as Nepal seems to have lost everything…” In the midst of his heartfelt sympathy, he paid tribute to Tzu Chi for their speed in providing relief to the affected ones in Nepal.



Buddha bathing serves as a good reminder to all Buddhists of the reality revealed by the Buddha more than 2,000 years ago. May there be mutual respect, gratitude and love among each other. The true meaning of Buddha bathing lies in purifying the minds through arousing the inner kindness, dispelling the myths and learning from “The Awakened One”.

 

A formation of “TC49” signified Tzu Chi’s 49 years of establishment, its growth and its global charity footprint. [Photograph by Lim Su Nguan]   Dharma Masters from Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana Schools of Buddhism led devotees to deeply comprehend the Dharma and be awakened to wisdom. Venerable Ming Ji (centre) was deeply impressed by Tzu Chi’s humanistic values manifested in the ceremony. [Photograph by Lim Chin Shein]

A formation of “TC49” signified Tzu Chi’s 49 years of establishment, its growth and its global charity footprint. [Photograph by Lim Su Nguan]
 
Dharma Masters from Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana Schools of Buddhism led devotees to deeply comprehend the Dharma and be awakened to wisdom. Venerable Ming Ji (centre) was deeply impressed by Tzu Chi’s humanistic values manifested in the ceremony. [Photograph by Lim Chin Shein]
 
Buddha Bathing Ceremony was also set up indoor, to allow public members to immerse themselves in the pure stream of the Dharma and be doused in Dharma joy. [Photograph by Wong Poh Fatt]   
Indian participants were seen bringing their families to the ceremony, to purify their minds with the Buddha’s teachings. [Photograph by Lai Jih Chuan]

Buddha Bathing Ceremony was also set up indoor, to allow public members to immerse themselves in the pure stream of the Dharma and be doused in Dharma joy. [Photograph by Wong Poh Fatt]
 
 
Indian participants were seen bringing their families to the ceremony, to purify their minds with the Buddha’s teachings. [Photograph by Lai Jih Chuan]
 
Kindergarten kids and their parents performed the ceremony with reverence under the guidance of teachers. [Photograph by Lai Jih Chuan]   Carsten Loebel (right) from Germany, together with his daughter, Mara, attended the ceremony and participated in the foot-bathing activity. It was a novel experience for them. [Photograph by Ng Min Hui]

Kindergarten kids and their parents performed the ceremony with reverence under the guidance of teachers. [Photograph by Lai Jih Chuan]
 
 
Carsten Loebel (right) from Germany, together with his daughter, Mara, attended the ceremony and participated in the foot-bathing activity. It was a novel experience for them. [Photograph by Ng Min Hui]
 
Eighty-nine-year-old Chen Xiu Lian (on wheelchair) had come with three generations in the family. [Photograph by Ng Su Lim]   Binod Limbu, who has worked in Malaysia for two years, was invited by his employer to the ceremony at the Jing Si Hall. He folded his palms and prayed sincerely for his home country. [Photograph by Thin Ket Yong]

Eighty-nine-year-old Chen Xiu Lian (on wheelchair) had come with three generations in the family. [Photograph by Ng Su Lim]
 
 
Binod Limbu, who has worked in Malaysia for two years, was invited by his employer to the ceremony at the Jing Si Hall. He folded his palms and prayed sincerely for his home country. [Photograph by Thin Ket Yong]
 
Li Shu Ling, who just returned from Nepal, had seized the opportunity to contribute at the ceremony as life is unpredictable. [Photograph by Aw Lee Ching]  

Li Shu Ling, who just returned from Nepal, had seized the opportunity to contribute at the ceremony as life is unpredictable. [Photograph by Aw Lee Ching]