Buddhists to observe Waisak at Mendut, Borobudur temples

by Bambang Muryanto, The Jakarta Post, May 3, 2012

Magelang, Indonesia -- Tens of thousands of Buddhists from across Indonesia and abroad are expected to observe Waisak (Buddhist Day of Enlightenment) 2556 this year at the two neighboring temples of Mendut and Borobudur in Magelang, Central Java, on Sunday.

Bhante Pabhakaro Thera, from the Waisak’s organizing committee, said that among the foreign worshipers expected to come to the temples for the celebration included those from Thailand, Hong Kong, China and the US.

“Through the celebration, hopefully people will be able to increase their love and compassion in order that they will also become wise and prudent,” Bhante Pabhakaro told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

He said processions began on Monday with the taking of 10,000 bottles of holy water from the Jumprit spring in Tegalrejo subdistrict, Ngadirejo district, Temanggung regency, Central Java.

“Water symbolizes human humility,” said Bhante Pabhakaro, adding that on Friday the water would be taken to Mendut for the Waisak celebrations.

The following day, on Saturday, another ritual will be held to take the flame from the source of the eternal flame of Mrapen in Purwodadi, Central Java. The flame, according to Pabhakaro, symbolized light that would bring enlightenment to human beings.

Other activities held to observe the Buddhist Day of Enlightenment include social services on Wednesday and Thursday, and the Pindapata ritual on Thursday, during which Buddhist monks receive charity from the people.

The highlight of the commemoration will take place on Sunday at Mendut and Borobudur temples. The precise moment of Waisak is due to fall on Sunday at 34 minutes and 39 seconds past 10 a.m. and will be observed at Mendut Temple.

“We will mark the moment with the hitting of a gong by Bhikku Wongsin Labikho Mahatera of the Tangha Walubi Council, followed by meditation,” Pabhakaro said.

On Sunday afternoon, both the holy water and the flame will be brought to Borobudur Temple for the Waisak celebration, which will be held at 7:30 p.m. that evening.

During this occasion, Buddhist monks will perform Pradaksina, or walking a circuit around the temple three times while meditating as a form of tribute to the temple.

The whole commemoration will be brought to a close with the lighting of 1,000 lanterns, which will be released into the sky. “This symbolizes the illumination of life, health and fortune,” Pabhakaro said.

Separately, the director of PT Taman Wisata Candi Borobudur, Pujo Suwarno, invited people to visit Borobudur to enjoy the Waisak procession that would be held in the grounds in front of the temple.

“We welcome visitors to watch the procession but they are not allowed to climb up the temple during the procession,” Pujo said.