After lunch we headed to the Buddhist Maha Vihara, located along Jalan Berhala in Brickfields or fondly known as Little India – for the large Indian community residing the area and many authentic Indian restaurants and Saree shops.
The Wesak Day festival atmosphere here was much more vibrant than what we had experienced earlier in the morning. As Jeremy and I walked towards the temple, road shoulders were occupied by peddlers selling traditional cakes, cold beverages, traditional Indian ornaments and clothes, balloons, audio CDs, etc. Music filled the air accompanied by accasional loud honks from vehicles avoiding pedestrians to and from the Buddhist temple along the long narrow road.
We reached the gates of the temple which was built during the British occupation in early 20th century. The old sturdy gates – more than 100 years old and originated from Liverpool – graciously welcomed us in to the view of a lotus pond at the entrance.
The crowd here was massive and the best part was it consists of people from multi-ethnic and multi-cultural background. There were locals; Chinese and Indian community, European tourists, Sri Lankan, Burmese, Nepalese, Indian who are working in Malaysia. The temple ground was packed with crowd patiently lining up to get blessings from the monks or waiting to get into the main shrine for prayers.
We took shade from the hot mid-day sun under the Bodhi Tree. The scene of Buddha attaining enlightenment was recreated with a huge marble statue of Buddha in his meditating posture under the tree. It is said one of the trees were brought from Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya, India. The rest was its sampling. Nearby, there’s a Buddha Gallery where statues of Buddha which was donated from the world over kept for display. One should not miss to step into the gallery as its collection of various form of Buddha is very interesting. Shoes are not allowed inside.
Fans which sprout out chilled water were placed at strategic places to give break to the devotees from hot spell – which I enjoyed for a short moment as I walked pass it. Smoke from incense was intense and flower offering to the monks was smooth amidst the huge crowd. Many volunteers spend their time and energy to make the sacred event a success – kudos to them!
As such, my friend Ee Lin was one of them. She is a devotee at Maha Vihara and she had spent her time volunteering on the eve and on Wesak Day – preparing food for visitors and devotees. I planned to join her but I could not make it this time. I shall volunteer in upcoming years if opportunity arises. Following are some pix from Ee Lin on beautiful floats paraded around Brickfields later that night.