Happy almsgiving to the great assembly of forest monks

SOME 1,000 Buddhist devotees carrying sacks of vegetarian food offered alms to around 60 monks and nuns, a practice known as pindapata, at the first-ever large assembly of forest monks in Penang.

Despite the rain, the event held in Padang Polo saw worshipers with raincoats and umbrellas gathering as early as 7am to park along Pindapata Road.

They made their offerings to monks and nuns in Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.

Dressed in dark brown robes, the monks led by Venerable Phra Ajahn KaiZhao Yuttadhammo began their pindapata journey at the Penang Harmony Center (Harmonico) in Scotland Road before heading to Padang Polo, where they received food offerings such as rice and grain placed in their alms. balls.

Professor Ch’ng Pooh Khem, 59, arrived on the field as early as 7 a.m. to participate in the pindapata.

“Most Sundays, I go to the temple near Penang Hill, where Buddhist monks and nuns converge to receive alms from the faithful.

“When I heard about 60 monks were coming to Padang Polo, I decided to come here to donate dry food,” she said.

Another devotee, Neoh Sim Yong, said he helped create good vibes in his family life.

“I rarely do, but when I get the chance, I contribute and do my part,” he said.

Neoh, 43, said he was proud that people of different ethnicities enjoyed freedom of religion in Malaysia.

After the pindapata, the event returned to Harmonico where a chanting session to bless Penang and its people was performed by the monks.

There were also offerings of goods from the public to the monastic community, followed by songs of blessings.

During the event, Buddhist devotees took the opportunity to perform ritual ablutions by washing the monks’ feet before the start of the prayer session, as a sign of respect.

The prayers were then led by the chief monk of Malaysia and Singapore, Venerable Phra Ajaan Keng Khemako.

There was also a half-day retreat program themed “Blessings for the Heart” held at Harmonico, where participants were guided in the art of achieving inner calm and peace. directed by Phra Ajahn KhaiZhao.

Penang Island City Council (MBPP) Councilor John Ooh Sih Hwa said the historic ceremony was held to recognize the contributions of various Buddhist organizations to society during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This is indeed a historic ceremony to be held in Penang, not to mention that it is also a great honor and recognition for the Buddhist community in Penang.

“This ceremony is part of the state government’s ‘Love Penang’ initiative, with the aim of building a caring society and a harmonious environment for the people,” he said.

Also present at the Harmonico event were Bukit member Gelugor Ramkarpal Singh, Consul General of Thailand in Penang Raschada Jiwalai, Batu Lanchang member Ong Ah Teong, Ayer Itam member Joseph Ng, Temple Administrator from Kek Lok Si Datuk Seri Steven Ooi, Buddhist Missionary Society of Malaysia State President Datuk Seri Tan Gim Soon, Malaysian Commissioner of Penang Buddhist Tzu-Chi Merits Society Datuk Khoo Boo Leong, Directors of Harmonico Datuk Seri Anwar Fazal and Dr Kuah Li Feng, as well as representatives of the Bahai faith.

The event was organized by the United Buddhist Order of Malaysia, Harmonico, MBPP and the Royal Thai Consulate in Penang.

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