KUALA LUMPUR: Wesak Day is usually celebrated in a big way among Buddhists in the country, but there are no street processions this year to avoid massive crowds as devotees emerge from two years of muted celebration due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Buddhists in many states visited temples in the early hours of the morning yesterday to hold religious ceremonies and pay homage to Siddharta Gautama, the religion's founder.
They performed religious rituals by lighting candles and offering flowers to commemorate the birth, enlightenment and death of the Buddha.
The grounds of the Maha Vihara Buddhist Temple in Brickfields here were filled with devotees as early as 8am.
Moderate crowds began queuing in the grounds to carry out religious activities, such as offering rice and flowers, and lighting lotus candles as well as making donations to the temple, Bernama reported.
President of the Sasana Abhiwurdhi Wardana Society, Sirisena Perera, said the Maha Vihara Temple would not be holding three major Wesak events in order to control the size of the crowds.
"There will be no blood donation campaign this time around, one of the key activities on Wesak Day.
"We will also not be distributing free food and drinks, nor will there be a float procession.
"Normally on Wesak Day, there will be a float procession in the evening, which can easily draw a 100,000-strong crowd," said Sirisena yesterday.
The venerable elder said the temple was expected to receive only 50% of the usual crowd.
"Before the pandemic struck, the normal crowd would be between 30,000 and 40,000 people," he said.
In Selangor, the venerable 'Bhikkhuni' named Man Hui, 60, of the Fo Guang Shan Dong Zen Temple in Jenjarom, said Buddhists began filling the grounds as early as 8am for prayers.
"We expect more than 5,000 visitors to attend prayers here because the Wesak Day celebration in this temple is held over two days starting from Saturday.
"Before the Covid-19 pandemic, about 10,000 devotees from inside and outside Selangor would turn up," said the Buddhist nun.
The fully ordained monastic deputy chief at the temple in Kuala Langat said there was a prayer yesterday, sermon and chanting from 10am to 6pm and a physical Buddhist bathing ritual for the statue of a baby Buddha.
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