That afternoon, while volunteers were busy preparing the site for the grand ceremony scheduled for 6 pm, rain began to fall. This led everyone to pray earnestly for the rain to stop in time for the activity to proceed smoothly. As if by some divine intervention, and much to the volunteers' relief, the rain did finally stop at about 4 pm as guests started arriving.
A hundred Buddha statues sat serenely on the simple, but elegant altar, to welcome the arriving guests in the evening sun and gentle breeze.
On this auspicious and meaningful day, we thanked the Buddha for giving us wisdom; our mothers for their loving-kindness; and we also prayed for us to be more diligent in practising the Spirit of Bodhisattva.
Close to 6,000 people took part in the different sessions of the ceremony. It is hoped that through paying respect to the Buddha through the solemn ceremony, people will find their pure innate nature and be rid of afflictions and worries. Collectively, they thanked the Buddha for his teachings, as well as, the parents and all sentient beings, besides praying for a peaceful world.
Purifying minds together
There were Dharma Masters, Catholic Sisters, and people from all walks of life, who came to celebrate the Buddha's Day together. Master Cheng Yen, Tzu Chi's Founder, has said that every religion has the same purpose, and that is to purify human minds. If people from all religious denominations can work hand-in-hand, then harmony will prevail. "Tzu Chi hopes to lead people to understand the true teaching of Buddha through such a ceremony, because the world will only be disaster-free when everyone's mind is purified."
Dharma Master Dao Pu from Nanhai Puduoshan, Singapore, was one of the Dharma Masters who graced the occasion. After the ceremony, he said, "In this country, we should not be separated by religion and should treasure our own religious faith and live in harmony. Only then will happiness and peace prevail."
Sister Clara Wong from Melaka Sacred Heart Convent, who was also at the ceremony, said this at an interview: "I know you are doing a lot of good work, and as I was curious, I came to find out about your organization and your missions. It is really good."
A special guest
Datin Sri Datuk Wira Hajah Asmah Ab. Rahman, wife of the Chief Minister of Melaka, was present to witness Tzu Chi Melaka's Buddha's Day Ceremony. She said, "I am glad for the opportunity to come and observe such a grand and solemn Buddhist Ceremony. Even though I was watching from the audience seat, I could feel the peaceful atmosphere."
Datin Sri was full of praises for Tzu Chi's charity work around the world, especially in disaster relief. She hoped that more Malaysians will embrace volunteerism.
Several members of JIM, a Muslim NGO (Pertubuhan Jamaah Islah Malaysia), were also here for a cultural exchange session with Tzu Chi volunteers.
Made a wish
Wu Ju Hong, a member of the public, has attended Tzu Chi's Buddha's Day Ceremony for three consecutive years. This year, she came with her whole family. In 2008, the ceremony was held after the Myanmar Cyclone Nargis Disaster (May 2), so she offered her blessing to the suffering population in Myanmar. She particularly loved the soothing and calming music and songs played at the ceremony.
Forty-seven students from Montfort Youth Centre in Melaka were invited to the ceremony. For many of them, including Jasvinder Singh, this was their first attendance at such a ceremony. Jasvinder, a senior student, felt good about the ceremony, and it was also an opportunity for him to learn a different culture. He also hoped that the junior students could learn something from it.
As stated in the Buddha-Bathing Sutra: "Today, I am here to pay respect to all Buddhas, who embody purity, wisdom, dignity, merit, and virtue. May all sentient beings of the world of Five Defilements be rid of all impurities, and attain the state of mind that is as pure as the Buddha's."
May the merit of bathing the Buddha bring peace to everyone. May Buddhism be known to all. Collectively, we shall spread the love of the Buddha to every corner of the world.
Source: Tzu Chi Foundation, Malaysia
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