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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.
Hi peeps, glad to be back to this platform. Lately, I had to juggle most of my time with classes and work so hardly had any time to write on my new travel experiences. Here, I’m sharing my experience at this year’s Thaipusam Festival at Batu Caves temple in Kuala Lumpur. I know, it’s already a month since the festival was held on 27th January.
Thaipusam is an annual Hindu religious event held at Batu Caves, Malaysia’s most prominent temple located about 15 Km from Kuala Lumpur City Center. On this day – celebrated on the full moon day of the month of Thai (1st month in Indian Calendar), a massive crowd of pilgrims from all corners of the country and tourists fetching up to a million in number congregate through the gates of Batumalai Sri Subramaniar Swamy Devasthanam, to show penance to Lord Muruga (one of Lord Shiva’s son, the other is Ganapathi – Elephant God) for fulfilling their vow in many different ways. Batu Caves is a limestone hill with Lord Murugan temple build inside a cave at the top. Pilgrims and visitors required to climb 272 steps to reach the shrine.
Although its a religious event, here in Batu Caves the ambiance is more like a carnival with many hawker stalls selling food, drinks, audio Cds and even a Carvinal Game Arcade at its compound. This year, a close friend of mine happened to have setup a drink stall. So, I used the opportunity not just to pay my religious deeds to Lord Murugan but helped my friend with his stall while learning some soft skills.
This year was much easier to commute to the temple compared to previous years as the government took the initiative to provide non-stop 24hours Commuter train service by Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM) direct to the temple grounds. It had saved me a load of time and hassle of driving and getting stuck in traffic standstill and paying hefty parking fees as I visited Batu Caves for 3 days. What a relieve!
Between my breaks from the stall, I walked about wading through crowd of locals and foreigners while enjoying the religious and carnival atmosphere. As I walked through the stalls and carnival area, the smell of food was on the air mixed with loud ear deafening music beats from loudspeakers. Some boys stood out from the crowd with their massively glorified pink, green fake hairs on their head and ‘vuvuzela’ looking trumpets on their hand blowing loud noise on people’s ears as they joyfully walked through the crowd.
As I approached closer to the temple shrines, the atmosphere were more religious like, quiet and more obedient. Here loud musics not allowed as pilgrims in yellow clothing walked pass with milk pots, Kavadi carried on their head and shoulders. It was a beautifully scene. There was a group of music performances who sang Lord Murugan’s bravery, beauty and kindness accompanied with a collective of traditional drum play which had really kept me captivated. The Kavadi bearers swayed gracefully with the music as they prepared themselves to go up the 272 steps with massive weight on their shoulders.
Thaipusam signifies the day Mother Parvathi handed Lord Murugan his Vel (a spear with tremendous power) to defeat evil beings. Religion text also says Lord Murugan’s Vel flew on its own cut a demon into half. Each half of the demon transformed into a vehicle to service Lord Murugan. One half turned into a beautiful peacock and the other into a rooster. So, to this day Hindus regard Murugan’s vehicle, peacock a significant religion icon. Its beautiful feathers used to decorated Kavadis on Thaipusam day.
As night falls and temperature drops from all the heat of the day, more Kavadi bearers and people carrying milk pots thronged the area and crow swelled. Now, it was much harder to walk between the sea of people. But, I did managed to get some snap of the beautifully decorated kavadis in bright LED lights and peacock feathers.
I climbed up to the top and payed my prayers to Him. Here, the milk pots bearers handed their milk pots to priests to shower Lord Murugan and Kavadi carrying pilgrims brought down the weight from the shoulders marking the completion of their penance.
The spectacular celebration of Thaipusam can only be spectated Malaysia outside India annually in the month of January or February. My 3days there were very informational and part of religious obligation albeit at times were crazy and tired with all the crowd.
4 Gothic Churches, the National Mosque, Malaysia’s earliest Hindu and Chinese temple is what I’ve discovered during my walk in Kuala Lumpur city yesterday. I’ve had this idea of finding heritage sites from the early days of Malaysia and embrace it’s beauty closeup for some time. Conjunction with the long weekend from Haj Celebrations, I’ve decided on my own version of Heritage Walk started from KL Sentral Railway Station.
A little walk from KL Sentral on Jalan Tun Sambathan, my first stop was at the Church of Holy Rosary. I was delighted as I admired the Gothic built of this church from the year 1903, especially it’s beautifully crafted stained windows depicting episodes from the holy bible. A mass was in the midway as I sat quietly and captured some of the interesting architecture of the hall. Outside, this place of worship still majestically stands on it’s ground as it’s being squeezed by high-rise buildings on it’s both sides.
As I was leaving Church of Holy Rosary, it was 10:15am and the heat is rising as I was sweating heat to toe. I quickly walked towards Jalan Sultan Hisamuddin to my next attraction, maybe for a shade to cool off. It was a huge shady stop as I arrived at the Kuala Lumpur Railway Station. Still a functioning railway station to this day, Kuala Lumpur Station and it’s Administration Building on it’s opposite was built in 1911. Following Moghul Architectural design, the building complete with domes to show Islamic influence. I’m particularly attracted to it’s white color as if indicating “purity”.
Walking the length of the Railway Station towards the end of Jalan Sultan Hisamuddin means you are at the entrance of Masjid Negara or The National Mosque. Built in the year 1963, it’s the pride of Islamic Religion of Malaysia. As I was there, I could see pockets of tourist drop by for a snap. Largely, this place of worship overcrowded by local to fulfill their Friday Prayers. The road between Kuala Lumpur Station Administrative Building and The National Mosque, leads you to the National Planetarium which was my next stopover.
I spent an hour at the National Planetarium, enjoying various science displays and trying my hands on knowledge games. I had the opportunity to refresh my memory on our solar system and at the same gathered detailed information of planets’ density, orbit, temperature and distance of other planets from earth. Oh boy! I truly loved the Anti-Gravity room. There were also displays on 1st Malaysian into space, Dr. Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor.
Following a visit to Planetarium, I crossed over Kuala Lumpur Station thru Pasar Seni LRT Station and came down to Jalan Sultan nearby Chinatown. My first visit was to Sri Maha Mariamman Temple along Jalan Tun HS Lee. The 19th century temple was built by a wealthy Indian Merchant in that part of the town, K. Thamboosamy Pillai, in year 1873. Over the years, the temple structure was shifted from it’s original location to it’s current place and renovated many times. Last renovation in 1973 with the built of 5-tier Gopuram. The temple Gopuram was an instant beautiful sight which will pull you into the temple ground. Outside, there’s facility to store your shoes before you head in. As I was there, the was on-going prayer with classical music filled the air.
As it’s almost noon, under the sweltering heat I did a brisk walk with short stops at Petaling Street (Chinatown), Gospel Hall, Wesley Methodist Church and OCBC Bank before arriving at Jamek Mosque.
The Jamek Mosque is one of the most prominent icon of Kuala Lumpur. It was built in 1909 following Moghul architecture and located along Jalan Tun Perak. The interesting notion of the building is that it’s located at the juncture where two rivers merge (Gombak and Klang River) and still have coconut trees in it’s compound, which maintain it’s bygones era in the modern 21st century city.
Extension of the Jamek Mosque is the Sultan Abdul Samad Building which was constructed in 1894. One can have a wonderful view of the building with it’s majestic 40m Clock Tower from the Merdeka Square. Merdeka Square is a historical landmark of the country as the Country’s Independence was announced here and Brtish Union Jack was replaced with Malaysian Flag. A stone throw away from the Merdeka Square is the 19th century Cathedral of Saint Mary along Jalan Raja.
After a late lunch at Indian Street, Leboh Ampang, I’ve completed my walk at the Sze Ya Temple. An interesting history of this temple, was built in 1864 by Yap Ah Loy (one of the founder of Kuala Lumpur) and dedicated to Sin Sze Ya Si Sze Ya deities, believed to have helped Yap Ah Loy defeat his enemies. At this last stop where I had the best moment of history. The temple has passed 145years old but it still retains it’s beauty of the yesteryear. Built from solid teak wood, beautifully painted and carved with Chinese inscriptions and ornaments. This small temple is still a popular place of worship, as I noticed when I entered. Followers burned incense and praying papers to wade off bad and bring in good luck. In astonishment, I clicked more pictures as I left the place thinking of returning with friends the next time.