Today is Wesak Day, and an annual public holiday in Malaysia. Malaysia is officially a Muslim country, but freedom for people to practice other religion is in the constitution, as well as in real life. Only 60% of population are Muslims, and 40% are practicing other religions. In Islam, other religions are allowed to co-exist, are respected and tolerated. That is the beauty of Islam, and Malaysia.
Wesak Day or Vesākha is celebrated around May by Buddhists in the Indian subcontinent, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and the South East Asian countries of Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Burma, and Indonesia. Sometimes informally called “Buddha’s Birthday”, it actually encompasses the birth, enlightenment (nirvāna), and passing away (Parinirvāna) of Gautama Buddha.
The celebration begins at dawn when devotees gathering at the temples to meditate on the Eight Precepts. Donations, giving food to the needy, offerings of incense, joss sticks and prayers are carried out. The sutras are chanted in unison by monks in saffron robes. The celebration is highlighted by a candle procession.
Happy Wesak Day to all who celebrate, and Salam 1 Malaysia!