Archive for May, 2010

I was used to celebrating Wesak at Brickfields which was always a busy, sweaty, smoky affair .It will be  difficult to find a quite spot  at the Buddhist Maha Vihara, one will be overwhelmed by  the crowd, the hustle bustle , the heat, the announcements over the PA….

This year, for a change, we decide to celebrate Wesak by visiting Nalanda Buddhist Society at Serdang. And I would say it was a refreshing change. A dhamma talk was taking place when we arrived, I think the crowd was less than 50 , after the talk, we were blessed by 2 monks. And after the session a symbolic food offering was made to the Buddha.  Before we left, the organizers asked us to take back with us the little pots of flowers that had adorned the foot of the Buddha statue.

 

In the evening, we again made our way to Nalanda to participate in the Wesak heritage candle light possession.

At the field, tents were set up for the mass food distribution

 

There were a large group of people ( male and female, young and old)  clad in white top and  dark brown sarongs gathered at the front of the Nalanda building getting ready for the procession . it was interesting to see the props that they were hoisting  :  flags of various colours,  lanterns/parasols  made of cloth, cloth dragons to be manned by 3, traditional musicians

Apart from the above which are hoisted on canes or poles,  there were also props that were to be wheeled like the  drums, statue of the Buddha and a  Bodhi tree

 

Before the possession, those that are participating in the walk were asked to collect the candles ( provided FOC)

 

The procession started at about 7:45pm headed by the banners, the flag bearers, the various props with the last being the parasols, the devotees carrying the lighted candle followed closely behind .

 

 

The most ‘hard-working’ group were the guys that were manning the dragons, they were seen weaving though the crowd non stop from the front to the tail end throughout the procession ( one funny thing I noticed was that 2 of the guys seemed to have ‘discarded’ their brown sarong and were seen clad in cargo pants)

 

The procession lasted close to an hour and when we were coming to the end of the procession , the parasol bearers stopped moving and the devotees get to passed between the rows of parasols to be greeted by  sprays of holy water and blessings of the monks. The session ended with a short metta meditation.

 

Kudos to the organizers. I had a great  Wesak experience.

 Website : www.nalanda.org.my

Blogsite : nalandabs.blogspot.com

Facebook : www.facebook.com/nalanda.org.my

Taking a break from Vientiane stories for this posting !

 Wesak is a sacred day for Buddhists, an occasion to commemorate the birth, enlightenment, and passing away of the Buddha more than twenty-five centuries ago. For 2010 Wesak will be celebrated on 28 May ( Friday). 

 

 I was at the Buddhist Maha Vihara temple @ Brickfields last night and a festive feeling filled the air. There were a lot going ons at the temple, volunteers were seen arranging tables/counters, groups of people and monks holding small discussions,  not to mention the usual crowd of visitors.

Along Jalan Berhala ( road to the temple) , stalls were been set up, the one and only stall already with the wares ready was….tan tan taraaa….the muruku stall ! no joke, I saw big bags of various types of murukus – the curly whirly ones, the straight ones, the thin ones, fat ones etc etc ( they have proper names for these different variety, so pardon my ignorance lah, I only know them by their shapes !)

 

I saw monks on cranes, putting up the buntings along the road leading to the Vihara

 

This year, I think the celebration will be even grander  because Mr and Mrs PM will be visiting the temple on Wesak day ! And  Gordan Ramsay ( he of Hell Kitchen’s fame – may he be free from samsara..hehe) will be cooking at the Vihara !

 Devotees can donate RM20 to lit an oil lamp. I helped out for a while at the corner where the volunteers were preparing the oil lamps . The preparation involve : 

 

1. get the glasses ready and arrange them

2. fill half of the glass with water

3. fill the remaining with oil

4. place  the floating thingy into the filled glass

5. place a wick on  the floating thingy

 The  activity schedule for the Buddhist Maha Vihara for Wesak day :

 

Please click here to the official website of Buddhist Maha Vihara.

Nalanda Buddhist Society ( Serdang) also has a series of activities for Wesak, click here for the program.

Happy Wesak. May you be well and happy ! 😀

We studied the whiteboard menu outside the cafe before entering  Mr Falafel’s Fast Food / The Shade Restaurant @ Fa Ngum Road

 

 Our order :  fried egg, ham, sausage, baguette plus tea / coffee for 20,000kip ( ~RM8). The baguette was kinda hard ,  after the dissection , we applied butter on the sides and we squeezed : egg, ham and sausage into the crevice. It was a mouthful, good for jaw expansion exercise, I enjoyed this hearty breakfast –egg/ham/sausage and baguette is a good team ! and the coffee…wow, it’s so very the kau, really kau kau one mannn, strong and fragrant. Good wake me up potion !

 

A large flat screen TV was mounted on the wall ( LG) and a short  little dog ( or more accurately a little dog with short legs) patrolled the place.

 After breakfast, we start our hunt for a tuk-tuk, tuk-tuk drivers normally will have a printed  price list for the various locations. Our destination was Buddha Park, That Luang and Patuxai, HC did the negotiation – which involved a smattering of English,  calculator ( provided by driver) and  some hand gestures. Final agreed price  180,000 kip.

 

It was a cool and breezy on the Tuk-tuk, we passed Beerlao brewery , click here for more info on Beerlao

 

 passed Lao Tobacco, temples,  Mekong river ( on the left is Thailand),

 

passed Friendship bridge –  a bridge over the Mekong . opened in 1994,  connecting the city of Nong with Vientiane. The length of the bridge is 1,170m  and cost USD 10 million. And there is going to be a  fourth friendship bridge built in the near future- linking Chiang Rai to Laos.

After about 45 minutes on the Tuk-tuk, we arrived at Buddha Park ( Xieng Khuan) . Paid 6,500 kip for entrance fee and camera.  The park was built in 1958 by Bunleua Sulilat, a yogi-priest-shaman who combined Buddhist and Hindu philosophy, mythology and iconography into the building of the park.

Near the entrance is a big pumpkin shaped structure with a tree on top.

 

It’s a kinda weird looking place, I do not find it particularly pleasing to the eyes , it’s crammed with various structures here , there and everywhere, big and small, some with rather weird hairdos ( like Marge Simpson), sitting, standing, you name it, they have it.

 

I think HC summed it up rather accurately  by calling it Buddha Circus instead of Buddha Park !

 We climbed inside the pumpkin , 3 flights of steps to reach the top and we get a bird’s eye view of the ‘circus’

 

After nearly an hour at the park we got on to the Tuk2 again,  we saw some stalls with some red and grey stuff and wonder what they were and  asked Mr Tuk2 to stop at a  stall  to  have a closer look  . Can you guess ?

 

 In the foreground : strips of buffalo hide, look closely and you can see the hairs, these have to be further processed (removing the hairs, outer skin etc ) before using them  in cooking  etc..on the background- something like beef jerky.

Next Up :  That Luang  – the  symbol of Laos’s nationhood and the country’s most sacred Buddhist monument. Watch this space !