PETALING JAYA: As Wesak Day, which commemorates the birth, enlightenment and passing of Buddha, falls on May 15, temples throughout the country have started preparations to observe the event.

The deputy abbess of religious organisation Fo Guang Shan Petaling Jaya in SS3, the Venerable Ru Xing, said they were excited to hold their first major public event since the Covid-19 pandemic started, but remain cautious.

She said to ease crowding and reduce contact, they have decided to remove dine-in, and changed the light offering and bathing of the Buddha ceremonies accordingly.

“The pandemic has made us realise how connected the world is. Likewise, we are holding an exhibition and forum on Buddhism, which would among other things, reflect on how Buddhism links Malaysia to the rest of the world.”

Ru Xing said everyone is welcome to attend the event and join the celebration.

She added that there will be no limit to the crowd size but advised the public to adhere to all required and recommended standard operating procedures (SOP) issued by the Health Ministry. That includes allowing access only to those whose MySejahtera app shows a blue status (low risk, no symptoms) and requiring all attendees to wear masks.

She said such requirements would allow everyone to enjoy the event in a safe environment.

“We are incredibly excited to welcome the public to our annual Wesak Day charity fair and celebration after two years of restrictions.

“The fair will run from 8.30am to 2pm. Come and enjoy the vast choices of food and drinks. There will be over 20 stalls manned by volunteers, offering for sale a variety of pastries, dumplings, drinks, ice cream, fruits and vegetarian dishes. There will also be dry goods like rice, noodles, tea leaves, coffee beans and health products for sale. Bookworms will be keen to note that there will be a bookstall too.

“Buddhists can offer light and flowers, and bathe the Buddha to renew their pledges to do good, and to be compassionate and wise.”

Ru Xing said this year would be unique as they would be exhibiting Buddhist relics from Pakistan.

She said the opening ceremony will start at 10am, and the exhibition is free and open to the public throughout the day.

There will be a public forum in English at 1.30pm, where a panel of Malaysian venerables and Pakistani scholars will discuss the history and significance of Buddhism in Pakistan.

“Since there will be no sit-in dining, all purchases are takeaways only. We are also doing away with all single-use plastic bags, and the public is encouraged to bring their own recycled or paper bags. It is best to come early and avoid the lunch crowd.”

Chetawan Buddhist Temple has a few activities lined up as well. Devotees will be able to offer light from oil lamps and flowers, bathe the Baby Buddha and participate in chanting sessions. There will also be blessings from the reverends present.

Its executive manager Phra Maha Amnoi said Buddhists will commemorate Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and nirvana to remind themselves of His compassionate teachings.

“For the safety of all devotees during the upcoming Wesak celebrations, we hope you will follow the SOP. With your cooperation, understanding and support during the event, all will be well,” he said.