Malaysia is the land of diversity where people of all cultures and religions live harmoniously, celebrating every occasion mutually. Throughout the year, in Penang, festivals are celebrated by everyone regardless of faith and personal beliefs. It is indeed a delight to watch. Every year, Wesak Day is celebrated on the day following the night of the full moon. This year, Wesak day will be celebrated on the 3rd of May 2015. It is a day of celebration for Buddhists as they celebrate the birthday of Gautama Buddha. This is why Wesak day is really special for the followers of Buddha and it is remembered and celebrated according to the preaching of Buddha.
The festival is celebrated with color and is focused around Buddhist temples where the followers gather to pray and chant. The day starts with a meditation session in the temples. The followers of Buddha gather in the temples and meditate together for a large part of the day. One of the common rituals on the Wesak day is the bathing of Buddha, which is performed by pouring water over Buddha and is supposed to signify purifying oneself from greed, negativity and hatred.
The procession of Wesak day has been organized in Penang since 1949 and the tradition continues to this day. After the meditation and praying session, the procession begins during the evening. The devoted followers of Buddha move through the streets of Penang, accompanied by people of all ages and faiths. The people of Penang create stunning floats that are covered with lights and flowers in order to increase the festive spirit of the day. This is also seen as an opportunity to refresh the teachings of Buddha so that people do not stray from the path that has been shown by the leader.
The teachings of Buddha focus on equality, compassion, knowledge and purity and warn followers to stay away from evil as it poisons the soul and mind. The procession is a sight to behold, and this is why people of the city and tourists all pour into the streets to witness the colorful festival as well as the rituals that bring peace of mind for everyone. There is music, cheer, laughter and a feeling of joy that runs throughout the city and envelopes everyone present there.
Once the procession discontinues upon reaching the temple, another blessing service begins. This is a special part of the Wesak day celebrations and everyone joins in to pray and seek blessings from Lord Buddha. The day marks celebration of three main events: the birth of Buddha as well as his death and the state of Nirvana, which is the basic foundation of Buddhism.
This day is one of the most important days for Buddhists and their devotion can be felt throughout the events of the day. As per the people who have been a part of the day’s events throughout the years, it is an enlightening and peace inducing day and as a result anyone who feels lost in their life should take part in the day’s festivities.