The Colours of Malaysia


Gee – I’m sick of doing copywriting. So what I did was, today being Wesak eve – I decided to go to the temple. This temple is located in Jalan Brickfields (or simply, Brickfields). It is a cultural melting pot dominated mainly by Indians. If you were to visit Brickfields, you will be amazed by the plethora of Indian restaurants, shops selling all sorts of knick-knacks and stuff you cannot find in conventional shops or shopping centres.

Brickfields is located nearby the KL Sentral – the disembarkation/embarkation point for Kuala Lumpur intercity buses and trains. If you want to go to the KL International Airport but choose to go by train – you may do so here. Just board the KLIA Express and you’re there already!

Anyway – I boarded the Putra LRT and arrived at Sentral Station. Walked quite a distance under the sweltering heat and what greeted me were the throngs of people mingling nearby the temple. The Brickfields temple is of Sri Lankan origin and was built in 1894. It is over a hundred years old today.

The bright lights add a festive air
The bright lights add a festive air

So what is Wesak? Wesak or Vishaka is the celebration of The Lord Buddha’s birthday, the day he attained Nibbana (Nibanna is Pali, whilst Nirvana is Sanskrit), and the day he died. Yes – three auspicious occasions on the same day.

Inside the Brickfields Temple (the correct name would be Mahavihara or “grand hall” in Sanskrit), there is a big statue of the Buddha. There is also a meditation hall, where I practised meditation for nearly 10 years. Tonight – crowds of people gathered in queues donating money to light oil lamps. What they do is to write their names of a sticker paper and donate RM20.00. The money then will be channeled towards either charitable organisations or used for renovating the temple.

The Mahavihara or "grand hall" at the Brickfields Buddhist temple
The Mahavihara or “grand hall” at the Brickfields Buddhist temple

There are also people queueing up to be blessed by the monks. These monks will sit on a platform and use flowers (usually Chrysanthemum) to dip into ‘holy’ water and then sprinkle on the crowd. Apparently – this act will ‘bless’ the people.

Most of the people there are Chinese. There are a lot of Indians and some foreign tourists too. Then there are devotees who sacrifice their time for voluntary efforts like cooking, cutting vegetables, serving water to the crowd and yes- selling books and other items to collect money for charity. I see this as a good way to see old friends and yet do DANA (Dana is a Pali word for meritorious deed).

I must clarify here that Pali was the language used by the Buddha. Sanskrit was the language where most of the Buddha’s teachings were translated into.

Dragon dance at the Temple
Dragon dance at the Temple
Lighting oil lamps on Wesak
Lighting oil lamps on Wesak

Midway through the night – a dragon dance troupe walked into the temple complete with gongs and cymbals. Legend has it that when the Lord Buddha was meditating under the Bodhi Tree, a storm came up. To protect the Lord Buddha, the Naga King (Serpent King) decided to spread its hood over the Buddha.

To all Buddhists, I wish you a Happy Wesak and may you be well and happy always!

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