By Panca Nugraha and Bambang Muryanto
Messages of self-reflection and harmony were sent out as Buddhists across the country observed Waisak 2556, or the Buddhist Day of Enlightenment, on Sunday.
Hundreds of followers at Lenek hamlet, Bentek village, in North Lombok, attended the Waisak procession at Sutta Dhamma, the oldest Buddhist temple in the regency.
Lenek hamlet, located 60 kilometres north of Mataram, the regional capital of West Nusa Tenggara, is one of several hamlets with a Buddhist majority nestled within a predominant Muslim community.
On Waisak, Buddhists all over the world commemorate events of significance to Buddhists of all traditions: the birth (623 BC), enlightenment (588 BC) and the passing away (543 BC) of Gautama Buddha. Buddhism, which came from India, has assimilated into many foreign cultures, and consequently Waisak is celebrated in many different ways all over the world.
The Sasak, the ethnic natives of Lombok Island, observed Waisak in their traditional costumes.
Sutta Dhamma temple is considered the landmark of the Buddhist existence in Lombok, which is called “The Island with a Thousand Mosques” due to its predominant Muslim population.
“Our ethnicity is Sasak, although we have embraced Buddha by generation. We believe we are part of Majapahit,” Giri Putra, a temple management official, told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.
Majapahit was one of Indonesia’s Buddhist kingdoms from 1300-1500 AD.
“We have been living in harmony with our Muslim brothers,” Giri said.
The Waisak celebration focused on disseminating messages of self-reflecting and harmony.
Procession leader Pandita Madya appealed to Buddhists to submit themselves in gratitude, to be aware that there is an eternal afterlife and to behave according to religious teachings.
“The followers must do away with envy and nurture togetherness, which are both important to create peace,” he said.
Offerings made from fruit were served and the temple was decorated.
He emphasized the need for Buddhists all over the world to foster harmony not only with other people, but with God and nature as well.
In Magelang, Central Java, the procession at the Mendut Temple was marked with the striking of a gong by Monk Wongsin Labikho Mahatera from the Indonesia Buddhists Association (Walubi), at exactly 10:34:49 a.m., known as the Waisak moment, on Sunday.
Present at the event were Walubi Chairwoman S. Hartati Murdaya, Governor Bibit Waluyo, Police chief Insp. Gen. Didiek S. Widodo, the Ministry of Religious Affairs’ A. Joko Wuryanto and Diponegoro Military Command chief Maj. Gen. Mulhim Asyrof.
The ritual procession was staged near the southern part of the temple, where hundreds of monks solemnly sat cross-legged, facing north where a Buddha statue lay. The thousands of congregation members following the session sat in the southern and eastern parts of the temple. At the end of the procession, they took holy water and picked tuberose flowers.
Monk Tadisa Paramita Mahasthavira warned Buddhists against hostilities.
“Why do religious followers commit anarchic acts and taint their religions?” he asked.
He urged attendees to adopt love and passion in their lives.
Hartati Murdaya pointed out the need to fight the human ego. “The prime enemy is our ego. Buddha showed he could get through it,” she said.
The procession at Borobudur Temple was marked with the release of 1,000 lanterns, as monks walked a circuit in meditation around the temple clockwise three times.
Meanwhile, the Sewu Temple hosted a Waisak procession in Surakarta. Attendees began to gather at 4.30 a.m.
The Waisak moment was marked with a siren that sounded three times, ending the procession.
The organizers said that around 6,000 people attended the procession.
Kusumasari Ayuningtyas contributed reporting from Surakarta