Wesak Day celebration showcase Sarawak’s racial harmony, religious tolerance with multifaith gathering at temple

Monks lead the bathing of Buddha ceremony at the Sarawak Buddhist Association temple on May 22, 2024.

By Karen Bong

KUCHING, May 22: The Wesak Day celebration at the Sarawak Buddhist Association temple on Jalan Tun Abdul Razak today showcased not only the devotion of worshippers but also the racial harmony and religious tolerance that permeates Sarawak.

Hundreds of devotees and representatives from various religious backgrounds gathered to honour the birth, enlightenment, and death of Buddha.

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In his address at the celebration, organised in collaboration with the Unit for Other Religions (Unifor), Deputy Premier Datuk Amar Dr Sim Kui Hian emphasised that Sarawak is a leading example of harmonious living in a diverse society.

“People envy Sarawak because we are truly ‘walking the talk’. Anak Sarawak of various races and religions coming together for any celebration strengthens our unity in diversity and mutual respect.

“Everyone here represents the best of anak Sarawak. These are also the values in Buddhism—wisdom, compassion, and forgiveness,” he remarked.

Representatives from other houses of worships and associations joining in the Wesak Day celebration at Sarawak Buddhist Association temple on May 22, 2024.
Representatives from other houses of worships and associations joining in the Wesak Day celebration at Sarawak Buddhist Association temple on May 22, 2024.

Dr Sim also highlighted that Unifor has spent approximately RM400 million on the needs of other religions in Sarawak since its establishment in 2017.

“This is why many admire Sarawak. But don’t just admire Sarawak, admire the people of Sarawak, who make this region so harmonious,” he said.

Kota Sentosa assemblyman Wilfred Yap, Batu Kitang assemblyman Dato Lo Khere Chiang, Kuching South City Council (MBKS) Mayor Dato Wee Hong Seng, Padawan Municipal Council (MPP) chairman Tan Kai, Unit for Other Religions (Unifor) director Datu Jack Aman Luat, Malaysian Buddhist Association Sarawak Branch chairman Dato Sri Dr Tay Chin Kin, as well as various religious and houses of worships leaders were present.

Representatives from Hinduism along with other devotees bathing the Buddha during the Wesak Day celebration.
Sri Maha Mariamman temple president Shankar Ram Asnani joins others for the Buddha bathing ceremony.

Meanwhile, the temple grounds were bustling with activity as devotees lit joss sticks, incense, and candles, offered flowers, and participated in prayer sessions to pay respect, show gratitude, and seek blessings from Buddha.

One of the key highlights of the celebration was the ritual of bathing the Buddha statue, where water is poured over the shoulders of the Buddha as a reminder to purify one’s mind from greed, hatred, and ignorance.

Wesak Day commemorates the birth, enlightenment, and death of Siddhartha Gautama, also known as Buddha.

Devotees praying during Wesak Day celebration.

According to historical accounts, Siddhartha was a prince born into a wealthy family in what is now Nepal in the 5th century BC.

Realising that wealth and luxury did not guarantee happiness, he travelled as a homeless holy man to understand the world better and witnessed widespread suffering.

It is believed that after six years of study and meditation, Siddhartha achieved spiritual enlightenment, discovering the true meaning of life. From then on, he was known as the Buddha, which means “the enlightened one,” and spent the rest of his life teaching his followers about his insights and experiences. — DayakDaily

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