KUALA LUMPUR: Buddhists in the country celebrated Wesak Day yesterday with special remembrance for Nepal earthquake victims.
At the Buddhist Maha Vihara temple in Brickfields here, devotees arrived as early as 6am to pray and pay homage to Lord Buddha.
Buddhist chief high priest of Malaysia Datuk K. Sri Dhammaratana Maha Thero said this year's celebration focused on prayers for the victims of the April 25 earthquake in Nepal, the birthplace of Lord Buddha.
The celebration began with the hoisting of the Buddhist flag, followed by the singing of hymns, Bernama reported.
A special prayer session was held for the victims of the 7.8-magnitude disaster.
Wesak marks Buddha's birthday and his attainment of enlightenment, as well as to commemorate his death.
A blood donation and organ donation drive were also held at the temple.
Light of awareness: Tan Chun Ni (second from right) and Junes Chew making offerings of light to the reclining Buddha statue at Mahindrama Buddhist Temple during Wesak Day in George Town, Penang. In Penang, thousands of Buddhists took part in a myriad of activities, with the highlight being the chanting sessions in Penang Hokkien (the sutras are in "Hokkienised" Sanskrit) at the Penang Buddhist Association (PBA) in Anson Road.
At the busy Thai-Theravada style Wat Buppharam at the corner of Perak Road and Burma Road, devotees offered robes to monks as an act of merit.
In the evening, some 15,000 people lined the route as 21 floats took part in a procession, which started from the Malaysian Buddhist Association in Burma Road.
In Kedah, more than 800 Buddhists gathered at Wat Jitraram in Jitra early morning to celebrate the occasion.
In addition to praying for the welfare and safety of family members, devotees also said a prayer for the victims in Nepal.
In Selangor, among the places of worship chosen by devotees was the Fo Guang Shan Dong Zen Temple in Jenjarom.
In Malacca, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Idris Haron said in a statement that Malaysians were fortunate because "tolerance and understanding between people of different religions, languages and cultures over the years had brought harmony".
In the evening, Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Nazri Aziz said Buddhists lived by teachings that encouraged them to take the "middle path" and live peacefully.
"The Buddhists have managed to avoid conflicts with others through their non-confrontational ways," he said at the launch of the Wesak Day float procession at the Buddhist Maha Vihara temple.
For the devotees: A monk blessing the crowd during the Wesak Day celebration at Sri Lanka Buddhist Temple, Sentul. In Serdang, the Wesak Day floats, put up by the Nalanda Buddhist Society, although powered by motor vehicles, were still pulled by devotees.
Sunanda Ong, the director of Nalanda Dharma school, said the "eco-friendly" celebration was in line with Buddhist teachings.
About 2,000 devotees marched to the beat of drums during the 2km procession.