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Seeing the light, in more ways than one

By CHIN MUI YOON, The Star, February 23, 2005

Jenjarum, Selangor (Malaysia) -- THE quiet of Jenjarom has been ?disturbed?? in recent days by busloads of visitors who come to the Dong Zen Fo Guang Shan Temple during the Chinese New Year season. 

<< Some of the 18 arhats in the lovely garden.

The magnificent structure and its beautiful garden on a 6.4ha site is venue of the festive celebrations, themed CNY Light Gala for Peace and Flower Exhibition. They feature hundreds of flowers and more than 2,000 lanterns.

Fo Guang Shan (FGS) is an international Buddhist monastic order, originating from Taiwan and led by the Venerable Master Hsing Yun. There are 17 centres in Malaysia with the headquarters at the temple near Banting. 

This year?s celebration is the temple?s second grand function. Last year?s Chinese New Year festivities was its first. 

?As it is a new year, we want to promote happiness and light through the lanterns, colours and exhibits on Buddhism,?? said Abbot Hui Xian.

?The lights, flowers and the series of humanistic and Buddhism exhibits and activities signify co-existence of nature and life.?

Ven Jue Wen, who is administrator of the Dong Zen Institute of Buddhist Studies, located on the temple grounds, said the temple?s main purpose was to enhance and propagate Buddhism. 

?Such grand celebrations unite our members and well-wishers who spend the Chinese New Year season volunteering their time and services at the temple,? she said.

?It is hard to calculate the cost of organising the celebrations, as many of our disciples and devotees have donated and sponsored the items from soil and gravel to the flowers and food.

?We have hung over 20,000 lanterns in more than 30 designs as light is especially important. It symbolises brightness and wisdom.?

Jue Wen said 230,000 people visited the temple last year and about 600,000 visitors have already done so since the celebrations were launched Feb 8. 

The main FGS Cultivation Centre is draped in a curtain of huge red lanterns that is breathtaking during the night. Around the garden are scenic attractions, each with its own meaning, teaching and story of the Buddhism faith.

The beauty of the temple?s spacious green lawns is a lure in itself. While children bask in the splendour of the floral gardens and magnificent arches, the adults offer prayers to the statues of Buddha. 

The Eighteen Arhats Area is the most photographed as the twin rows of cherry blossom trees with their pretty, pink blooms make for a beautiful picture. Though artificial, the trees emit an aura of Spring. Each branch is adorned with dainty, paper lanterns in varying colours.

Beneath the trees are stone statues of the 18 Arhats, saints or sages who have attained enlightenment following the teachings of Buddha. 

Near the trees is the Pureland of Flowers and its 33 stone statues of novice monks amid rings of colourful plants and blooms. 

The Lumbini Garden is devoted to Sakyamuni Buddha. Here, a life-like animatronics figure of Prince Siddharta stands amid flowerbeds, stone paths, a lotus pond and the Lapis Lazuli Tower.

The tower appears as a transparent pagoda during the day. By night it glows in iridescent colours. The tower is named after the Medicine Buddha and the transparency signifies the radiance of Dharma?s teachings.

One of the temple?s most frequented areas is the Main Shrine. Inside sits a 5.4m tall statue of Buddha in bronze. Eight other bronze carvings line the walls, each depicting the Buddha?s life from birth to his achieving Nirvana. 

Four exhibitions are held on the temple grounds during the festive season. Among them are, a Book Fair that features journals on Buddhism and health, a Light of Art exhibition that has 60 table lamps from Taiwan and designed with Buddhism characteristics. 

There is also an Artistic Exhibition that features works such as calligraphy, sculpture, carving, paintings and pottery by 100 local artists. 

The Fo Guang Shan Temple is open daily from 10am to 10pm on weekdays and till 11pm on weekends until March 6. After that date, it is open from 9am to 7pm from Tuesdays to Sundays. 

The temple is located at PT2297, Jalan Sungai Buaya, Sungai Jarom, Jenjarom, Kuala Langat, Selangor. For details, call 03-3191 1533, 3191 1593 or 7877 6533 or visit www.fgs.org.my



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