A Grand Wesak Procession was held in Melaka on May 5, 2012. Volunteers from Tzu Chi Melaka promoted "Vegetarianism" and "Eat 80% full and donate 20% to the needy", which saw 4,825 signing up in support of this campaign.
It was a majestic event of solemnity and harmony, with participation from 74 teams, comprising of 10,000 participants. The procession attracted tens of thousands of people, including many tourists. Some waited in great anticipation, while many others knelt in prayers along the route. To the younger generation, this Buddhist festive celebration was an eye-opener.
The procession started at 7.15 pm from the former 'Eye on Malaysia' site, and from there it proceeded to Jalan Syed Abdul Aziz, and several areas in town before terminating at the Kubu Stadium. It took about 5 hours for the procession to cover the 7.7 km route.
The float from the historical Cheng Hoon Teng Temple led the procession. It depicted the story of Prince Siddharta, who realized the impermanence of life after witnessing the four phases of poverty, sickness, aging and death. Thereafter, the Prince decided to denounce his regal and comfortable life in search of the Truth. This particular story served to highlight the significance of Wesak Day.
Unity gives the power to serve
In May 2008, Tzu Chi Foundation extended aid to Myanmar after a cyclone disaster. The relief work continued into long-term care; and along with that, the spirit of Tzu Chi's Bamboo Bank was introduced to the Myanmarese. Besides being victims of the disaster, they had no money to give as they were very poor. But that did not deter them from reciprocating the love and care they received. To do this, they came up with the idea of saving a handful of rice whenever there was rice for a meal; and the rice saved was given to another soul in dire need.
Master Cheng Yen pointed out that by this noble act of theirs, the Myanmarese people are thus spiritually rich. The Master then called on people to follow this idea of reducing wants to save for those in need. When people of the world unite in such a measure, countless starving people all over the world could be fed.
It is shocking to note that out of the world's 7-billion population, 1-billion are in starvation. Yet in the rich world, 1/3 of the world's food production is wasted. Currently, the world is facing a food crisis. For this reason, during the Wesak procession, 359 Tzu Chi volunteers went all out to the masses to create awareness on the concept of "Eat 80% full and donate 20% to the needy". The response was encouraging as 4,879 people had pledged to support the campaign, while 1,378 people pledged to go vegetarian.
Go Vegetarian and eat 80% full is a healthy lifestyle
Besides the food saving campaign, volunteers also set up 4 recycling points along the procession route. At each point, there were recycling bins for different categories of recyclables; and volunteers on hand also did their best to invite the public to attend the Buddha Bathing Ceremony to be held at MITC on May 13.
At the recycling points, volunteers were heartily shouting these slogans aloud:
"Be vegetarians to save the Earth"
"Planet Earth is My Home; Let's all Protect the Earth"
"Come on everyone, let us start with one vegetarian meal a day"
It was an earnest call that won the applause of many in the procession. Each participating team had also assigned a person to collect waste and recyclables; and as they passed by the recycling points, they handed their collection to the Tzu Chi volunteers.
Volunteers also promoted conservation, carbon reduction and simple lifestyle to members of the public they met.
As Zhang Zhi Qing, a media worker from KL, was in Melaka on an working trip, he made it a point to observe the procession and Tzu Chi volunteers' efforts. After being briefed by volunteers about the Myammarese story of saving rice for others, he immediately praised Tzu Chi for guiding the aided recipients to serve others in need. He accepted the idea of vegetarianism for conservation, and will make it a daily practice.
Yao Guo Han brought his parents and his own family to watch the procession. After being briefed about vegetarianism, all 6 members of this family pledged to take one vegetarian meal a day as the first step to saving Mother Earth.
Yao had pledged to be a vegetarian before, but failed to observe despite being aware that vegetarian meals are beneficial for health. He has now decided to re-start his vegetarian pledge.
Lu Ya Dong is a Mainland Chinese citizen on job training in Melaka. She was aware that filling the stomach to the fullest could be detrimental to health, besides wasting food. She totally agreed to the idea because it is a means to motivate love and conservation.
A retired civil servant, Huang Zhong Wen, became a vegetarian for two reasons - to keep the disease he has at bay, and because he is a Buddhist. He had learnt from Da Ai TV about the "Eating 80% full and donating 20% to the needy" concept; and has vowed to be a vegetarian for the rest of his life.
With Bamboo Banks in their hands, Wang Qiao En and her daughter, Lin Rong Qi, took the opportunity to solicit for donations from the public while waiting for the procession to pass by.
A happy volunteer in action
A grey shirt volunteer, Zhuang Li Hua, talked to the people crowding in front of the Pahlawan Mall.
Li Hua told her audience, "For each vegetarian meal you take, you help to reduce carbon admission by 780g, thereby reducing the atmospheric temperature. Furthermore, the world is facing a water crisis, so we must learn to reuse water." Her simple and clear explanations attracted the attention of the old and young alike. They all listened intensely.
Although this was her first experience in public-speaking, she certainly did not show her nervousness. This was because she was talking about something she practices daily.
Her active response to the call to "Save 20%" had resulted in a reduction in her family's water bill from RM10+ to about RM6. She also keeps leftover rice to make delicious rice puddings.
After learning about the importance of recycling in Tzu Chi, she started picking up recyclables from waste bins with her hands without hesitation as she knew she is saving the Earth.
She believes firmly that her efforts in conservation will certainly influence others to follow. She could be seen weaving in and out of crowds to promote this drive.
Seventy-year old Hong Su Zhen from Cheng had benefitted from listening to Master Cheng Yen's Dharma talk on her neighbour's Da Ai TV. Later, she had Da Ai TV installed in her own house; and when she saw old folks sorting recyclables at recycling stations, she was touched. She then decided to follow suit. Ever since then, she has found happiness and meaning in what she did, as well as, realized that the greatest reward goes to the giver, not the recipient.
For 7 years, she has been taking vegetarian meals for at least 10 days a month. She also felt good about "Eating 80% full" concept, and was happy to share her experience with the crowd.
Ten thousand sincere minds formed the 1km long float procession to spread Buddha's compassionate love, and the seed of peace and kindness. May wants be reduced, and humanity becomes better. May climate change be slowed down, and may the world be peaceful.
This Grand Wesak Procession, which takes place once every 10 years, was majestic, solemn and peaceful. It attracted tens of thousands of people.【Photograph by Hoe Sin Huang】
Recycling points were strategically set up to promote awareness for recycling and conservation.【Photograph by Tan Lian Hee】
Zhuang Li Hua shared her experience about the "Eat 80%, save 20%" with the crowds.【Photograph by Yong Siew Lee】
As they waited for the procession to pass by, a mother and child team made full use of their time to awaken the inert kindness in people's hearts.【Photograph by Yong Siew Lee】
Thumbs up in recognition of volunteers' sincere efforts in conservation.【Photograph by Ng Saw Hua】
Zhang Zhi Qing promised to practise conservation in his daily life after listening to the story of saving rice for charity.【Photograph by Hong Geok Hui】
|< Prev||Next >|