Archive for the ‘Multicultural Education’ Category

Winning the elusive peace

Saturday, June 24th, 2017
Residents of Marawi spending Ramadan in evacuation centres as the city is under siege. AFP Photo

MALAYSIANS will celebrate Hari Raya this year the usual way: in relative peace and prosperity.

Sure, there are concerns about rising cost of living and decision day looms as a fresh general election approaches.

The most immediate concern is commuting safely to and back from hometowns and kampung; the roads and highways being such predictable and tragic scenes of carnage nowadays from our own carelessness.

Amidst such relatively mundane concerns, let us all spare some thought for the less fortunate, not just within our borders, but even beyond.

As Malaysian Muslims celebrate overcoming personal trials and tribulations over Ramadan, think of all the residents of Marawi in the Philippines, all 250,000 of them, spending the entire month in evacuation centres or with friends and relations across the country.

Marawi matters not just for Muslims everywhere, but also for those who wish that peace is not so elusive for anyone anywhere.

The city prided itself as the Muslim City of Marawi and that is no small claim. It is the only reasonably-sized city in the Philippines that is majority Muslim. Many non-Filipinos mistakenly assume the entire island of Mindanao as majority Muslim. Nothing is further from the truth.

Progressive waves of settlement by Filipinos (invariably Christians) from elsewhere in the country over centuries have altered the demographic complexion of Mindanao. That only feeds into the deep sense of grievance and alienation felt by many Muslim Filipinos who, along with other local indigenes, were once the majority on the island.

Independence, however, is no longer an option, even if some still harbour such hopes. Muslim-majority bits of Mindanao are now like disjointed Bantustans and will never make a viable, contiguous independent entity on their own.

It is interesting to note that the unofficial “capital” of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao or ARMM (created by the Philippine government with the Moro National Liberation Front or MNLF) is Cotabato City, further south of the island from Marawi. That is because Cotabato is within the ARMM region but separate from it since, being Christian-majority, it opted not to be a part of ARMM.

ARMM — a two-decade political experiment — had been deemed by ex-Philippine president Benigno Aquino III (whose mother Corazon Aquino initiated the rapprochement with the MNLF when she was herself president) as a failure.

The fault lies at least as much with MNLF and in particular, its erstwhile leader, Nur Misuari. One cannot claim autonomy and yet blame all on Manila.

Disgruntled MNLF leaders left to form the Moro Islamic Liberation Front or MILF and, after a decade and a half of negotiations with the Philippine government (under Malaysian facilitation), forged a separate agreement to create the Bangsamoro entity, politically stillborn as at the end of the second Aquino administration.

Such a heady mix of political baggage and frustrated political aspirations understandably is now hugely fertile ground for extremists from within and without the Philippines claiming to fight in solidarity with the so-called Islamic State.

And, how more devious can these extremist fighters get than holing themselves up within Marawi, ensuring that any fight with government forces will result in protracted urban warfare and just possibly the complete destruction of the city and ultimately, reaping a perverse, diabolical propaganda victory that will prolong the sense of political grievance by Muslim Filipinos for several more generations perhaps?

Which is why, if nothing else, a speedy revival of the Bangsamoro peace track is absolutely vital, perhaps more so than ever before.

Under Rodrigo Duterte, the first Philippine president from Mindanao, great hopes still reside for Mindanao peace despite a full year now of seemingly always forlorn hopes.

by  John Teo .

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2017/06/251489/winning-elusive-peace

Reflections on Ramadan

Saturday, June 17th, 2017

Explaining the purpose and the method of fasting to friends of other faiths brought us closer together.

DURING my undergraduate days, my non-Muslim friends approached a few of us to ask what it was like to fast during the month of Ramadan.

It was hard to articulate the experience to them, so we thought it would be simpler to ask them to join us.

A number of them decided to fast for a day. Late in the afternoon, we accompanied them to the nearest Ramadan bazaar to purchase what ended up being a buka puasa feast and sat together to break fast.

The conversation that flowed during the breaking of fast session was one that I remember to this very day.

As we explained the do’s and don’ts during fast that include, for some Muslims, how nose-picking can cause one’s fast to be nullified, we received some cheeky responses in return.

Some of them also admitted that they cheated by taking sips of water throughout the day as they were only doing it for experience.

Others asked more pertinent questions like why do Muslims fast and go for terawih prayers only during Ramadan. The Muslims among us tried to answer their questions to the best of our ability.

We even shared our own experience of learning how to fast when we were children.

Most of us began to observe Ramadan when we reached the age of seven.

Many recounted stories of being given leeway by our parents to break fast when we got too tired during the day or of being promised more duit raya if we fasted for the whole month.

Following their experience of fasting for a day, most of my non-Muslim friends mentioned that they now better understand fasting and respect Muslims for observing our fast. To all of us, it was a day where we simply shared an experience.

It was also an eye-opener for us Muslims to learn how our friends from different religious beliefs observe fast.

Christians observe a period of Lent and we heard about the speci-fics of fast for our Hindu and Buddhist friends, too. Funny how eating together, or in this case breaking fast together, is the best and most organic way for us all to get to know each other better.

Personally, I love the month of Ramadan. For me, it allows me the time to reflect, to be more mindful about my own behaviour, and to better control my temper.

Yet, every Ramadan, I am challenged emotionally. Two friends passed away this Ramadan, one a veteran journalist whose writings I adore, and another an acquaintance who is known to many as a community organiser in Penang, and who is only a year older than me.

As a young girl, I personally believed that humans would act in a good manner and became more spiritual during this holy month as all the devils were chained up.

As an adult, I am now left to wonder at the very human nature of having prejudice, acting harshly and irrationally, even to the extent of causing hurt and violence unto others, regardless of whether it is the month of Ramadan.

by  LYANA KHAIRUDDIN
Read more @ http://www.thestar.com.my/opinion/columnists/naturally/2017/06/17/reflections-on-ramadan-explaining-the-purpose-and-the-method-of-fasting-to-friends-of-other-faiths-b/#JzmARBwjHTfpV806.99

Research on effects of Ramadan

Thursday, June 15th, 2017
Ramadan is the best time for family and social gathering

RAMADAN is the greatest month and the best time for self-regulation and self-training. There are numerous benefits to those who are fasting, either from spiritual or physical perspectives.

At the same time, the positive effects have not only been mentioned in the Quran and Sunnah but also by many scientific research. In fact, there are a few institutions that have been established to promote fasting as a way to prevent and heal diseases, such as the Fasting Center International Incorporation in the United States of America.

In understanding the wisdom of Ramadan and fasting from several interesting findings, the effects can be looked upon from four different perspectives, namely economic, health and sciences, psychological and social point of views.

According to a study entitled Piety and Profits: Stock Market Anomaly during the Muslim Holy Month undertaken by the University of New Hampshire led by Iranian-born finance Professor Ahmad Etebari, stock returns in largely Muslim nations outperform during Ramadan.

It is found that on average, stock returns are nine times higher than other times of year. The phenomenon is called the “Ramadan Effect”.

Between the stock markets of Bahrain, Oman, Turkey, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Pakistan, Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Malaysia, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia, the report identified a trend of considerably higher returns during the holy month as compared to other months.

The study found that the average returns for the 15 countries — from the database gathered from 1989 to 2007 — were 38 per cent during Ramadan as compared to an average of 4.3 per cent during ordinary months. It reveals that the social cohesion and institutional feelings attained during Ramadan helped influence investment behaviour.

In 1994, during the first International Congress on “Health and Ramadan” held in Casablanca, Morocco 50 research papers were presented from all over the world by Muslim and non-Muslim researchers who have done extensive studies on the medical ethics of fasting.

The congress made recommendations that Ramadan fasting is an ideal method for treatment of mild to moderate, stable, non-insulin dependent diabetes, obesity and essential hypertension.

Allan Cott, in his famous book Why Fast, states that fasting has the effect of cleaning out the body; lowering blood pressure and cholesterol and letting the body heal itself. Another interesting finding refers to the fasting habit to slow the aging process based on a research conducted by Dr Yuri Nikolayev, a Moscow-based scientist and dietitian/nutritionist.

From a psychological point of view, it is empirically proven that fasting can bring positive effects to mental health. Dr Sabah al-Baqir from the Medical Faculty of University of King Saud reveals that fasting will generate a specific hormone which may relieve tension and make a person feel better physically and mentally.

Crime rate is also significantly decreased during Ramadan. I believe that this is a phenomenon in many jurisdictions all over the world. According to the statistic produced by the Iranian Police Department in 2008, Iran’s overall crime rate and murder rate declined during the holy month. There has been a 32 per cent decline in homicides and the overall crime rate has dropped significantly. It is worth noting that the homicide rate in Iran is six murder cases per day and Iran stands 50th in the world in the homicide rate.

Ramadan is the best time for family and social gathering. The Maktoob Research in UAE conducted a survey on the opinions of 6,128 adult Muslims from across the Arab world about Ramadan. The survey reveals that 86 out of 96 per cent of Arab Muslims observing the fasting month tend to observe iftar (the break of fast) as a good opportunity for family gatherings.

This finding indirectly indicates that fasting during Ramadan can strengthen the family institution and community as well as provide the best practices for the unity of the ummah.

by DR ZULKIFLI HASAN.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/education/2017/06/248804/research-effects-ramadan

Iftar event draws in the crowd.

Monday, June 12th, 2017
Unforgettable experience: Several foreign tourists took the opportunity to join the IftarKL2017 event at Dataran Merdeka. — Bernama

Unforgettable experience: Several foreign tourists took the opportunity to join the IftarKL2017 event at Dataran Merdeka. — Bernama

KUALA LUMPUR: The second week of Iftar@KL2017 has attracted foreign tourists to take part in the sixth edition of the en masse breaking of fast in the city centre.

The programme, jointly organised by the National Culture and Arts Department, Kuala Lumpur City Hall and the Malaysian Islamic Development Department, is held every weekend during Ramadan at Jalan Raja and Dataran Merdeka.

Despite the rain before the programme which started at 6.30pm, members of the public arrived in throngs to reserve spots in the area provided.

University of Hamburg biology student Laura Schmidt, who is on a two-week visit to Malaysia, could not hide her excitement at having the chance to take part in such a large-scale programme.

“It is my first time joining this kind of programme. I was informed about the event by my friends back at my (backpackers) hostel.

“I really love Malaysian food, and the iftar food just now, like bubur lambuk, was delicious,” said the 27-year-old lass who donned a shawl when met by Bernama on Saturday evening.

A tourist from Mexico City, Roberto Gomez, 20, and his elder sister Maria had travelled a long way from Latin America to see for themselves the practices during the month of Ramadan in Malaysia.

“Even though we are both Catholics, we want to experience how Malaysian Muslims observe the month of Ramadan. We do not want to miss out on the amazing and delicious iftar food,” said Gomez.

Earlier, the programme was enlivened with Ramadan religious lectures and the recital of the Quran by hafiz (quran memorising) students.

Among the other highlights at the Iftar@KL programme this year were the distribution of lambuk porridge, an Islamic tourism exhibition, zakat counters and Ramadan discussions.

BERNAMA.
Read more @
http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2017/06/12/iftar-event-draws-in-the-crowd-tourists-eager-to-experience-how-msians-observe-ramadan/#oV5HHSmVxZovkR6S.99

Wisdom of the masses: Navigating multi-culturalism

Sunday, June 4th, 2017
A shared dream: While the different communities in Malaysia have different worldviews, many believe they should strive to live in multicultural and multi-faith neighbourhoods so as to foster greater understanding and tolerance.

A shared dream: While the different communities in Malaysia have different worldviews, many believe they should strive to live in multicultural and multi-faith neighbourhoods so as to foster greater understanding and tolerance.

IN a nation that is bisected by differing cultures and faiths, it is natural to expect that most Malaysians tend to favour and trust their co-religionists more compared to their other countrymen. It is normal human tendency to favour those who are like them due to shared values and expected norms. A survey, which was carried out by Merdeka Center on behalf of the University of Oxford and funded by CIMB Foundation, found that Malaysians tended to consider their co-religionists more favourably compared to those of other faiths. Unsurprisingly, they also reported knowing less about other religions compared to their own and tended to see people of other religions to be less like them. All the above attitudes were found to be prevalent among all Malaysians, but were more accentuated and much stronger among the Muslims surveyed. (See chart)

On the surface, these findings could serve the cause for further probing, to understand why the Malay Muslims see themselves apart from others and perhaps regard themselves as exceptional. While these attitudes exist and are held, the same respondents express agreement that Malaysians should strive to live in multicultural and multi-faith neighbourhoods so as to foster greater understanding and tolerance. This attitude can be construed in a number of different ways, but the most hopeful is one that sees it as an expression of a maturing society that appreciates each other’s need for spiritual and cultural space, but at the same time, wants it to be moderated by the need for mutual peace and cooperation.

Through surveys done in the past by Merdeka Center, we know that the major communities that make up the Malaysian citizenry see the world through different lenses: they read and learn about news in different languages, hold affinity to different regions of the world and dream about different vacation destinations. The Malay Muslims feel affinity for news and developments in other Muslim countries, particularly the troubled Middle East, dream about vacations in Turkey or Central Asia and imagine furthering their careers in the Gulf states.

On the other hand, the Chinese follow news and entertainment from Hong Kong, China and Taiwan, they also consume more news from Western media outlets than their Muslim counterparts, and many imagine seeking employment in Singapore or further afield in places such as Australia or the rest of the West. As such, it is inevitable that their worldviews are different. Thus, while one part of society is transfixed on the violence perpetrated in places like Manchester or Paris, the other is affected by the daily atrocities in places like Syria, Palestine, Pakistan or Afghanistan.

These different worldviews would undoubtedly play a role in orientating communal behaviour, potentially pushing communities further apart. Closer to home, there are those who seek to stoke sensitivities over race and religious issues, such as the prolonged polemic over non-Islamic religious scripture in the Malay language, protests over religious symbols on buildings, and, more recently, over a little-known book written by a local politician about her faith. It is interesting that all of these issues came into the public arena when we are about to have the most competitive electoral contest in our political history.

Despite what appears to be manufactured polemics aimed at mobilising communities towards a particular option, most Malaysians have chosen restraint over reaction. We have some empirical examples from recent political history: in our analysis of the 2013 general election results, we noted that despite incessant media and political treatment of the use of some Arabic terms in non-Muslim scriptures in the five months leading up to polling day, the issue hardly budged the Malay Muslims. Instead, the Malay voter swings were more correlated with regional or local issues, such as the perceived performance of leaders, resolution of local issues or the quality of candidates fielded by parties. This and many other examples in past years show that the Malaysian public, the Malay Muslims in particular, are more mature and considerate than some of their purported leaders give them credit for. Through their restraint, the vast majority are not easily perturbed by manufactured slights and sensitivities.

by IBRAHIM SUFFIAN
Read more @ http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2017/06/04/wisdom-of-the-masses-navigating-multiculturalism/#OfxGMcxRpAseVxaX.99

Kerinah Mah, crowned the new Unduk Ngadau queen

Thursday, June 1st, 2017
Kerinah Mah (middle), the 22-year-old Sino Tombonuo lass, representing Kota Kinabalu, beat 43 participants and took over the role of legendary figure Huminodun from former Unduk Ngadau queen Sherry Anne Laujang. Pix by MALAI ROSMAH TUAH.

PENAMPANG: This year’s Kaamatan festival ends with the crowning of Kerinah Mah as the new Unduk Ngadau.

The 22-year-old Sino Tombonuo lass, representing Kota Kinabalu, beat 43 participants and took over the role of legendary figure Huminodun from former Unduk Ngadau queen Sherry Anne Laujang.

She won herself RM45,000 in scholarships sponsored by the Asian Tourism International College and the Almacrest International College, return ticket to Bangkok, RM8,000 in cash, a Samsung Galaxy A5, and a trophy, among others.

During the question and answer session, she said participating the Unduk Ngadau has always been her dream.

“Through Unduk Ngadau, I am able to enhance my knowledge (on the Kadazandusun culture and traditions) and also the language,” she said.

Kerinah was crowned by Puan Sri Genevieve Kitingan, the wife of Deputy Chief Minister and Huguan Siou (Kadazandusun paramount leader) Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan at the event held at Hongkod Koisaan here.

Shareene Francis Loudin, who represents Penampang, bagged the first runner-up position, while Arveyna Pamella Januin of Papar came in as the second runner-up.

The Unduk Ngadau pageant is one of the most important highlights of Kaamatan, which depicts Huminodun, a maiden who was sacrificed by her father, Kinoingan, to save the people from famine and grant humans a bountiful harvest.

A newly crowned Unduk Ngadau is expected to carry out social and charity works as well as promote Sabah tourism for a year.

by AVILA GERALDINE

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2017/05/244539/kerinah-mah-crowned-new-unduk-ngadau-queen

Pageant slip-up a sour start for Kaamatan

Wednesday, May 31st, 2017
Thousands of people come to Sabah to make merry, eat and hang out with friends during Kaamatan. Over the years, what started out as a traditional festival has turned into something like a Coachella event. FILE PIC

TO Sabah folk, today is the culmination of the month-long Harvest Festival, or Kaamatan.

May 31 is synonymous with a visit to Kadazandusun Cultural Association’s (KDCA’s) Hongkod Koisaan building in Penampang, and some even consider attendance to be compulsory, with social media creating a “fear of missing out” syndrome, especially among youth.

I went to the stalls there, which opened as early as 10 days before the annual event today — the crowning of the Unduk Ngadau, or beauty queen.

A relative lamented last weekend that it had already become unbearable to visit as crowds were huge and traffic — both on the road as well as along the stalls — was barely moving.

Thousands of people come here to make merry, eat and hang out with friends, and over the years, what started out as a traditional festival has turned into something like a Coachella event.

That is not necessarily a bad thing, of course, as this festival, highly publicised by the state Tourism Board as well as travel agencies, has attracted international and domestic tourists. Tourism receipts are among the highest during this month.

In fact, the event has become so well known that ridesharing service Uber has come on board, offering free rides to the location yesterday and today.

This year’s celebration, however, has taken on a little bit of a sour note, thanks to a drunk emcee who hosted the Banggi Unduk Ngadau pageant on May 21 and announced the wrong winner during the district-level competition. Drinking alcoholic beverages, including the traditional
lihing and talak, is common during the month-long festival, but the hosts or emcees for Kaamatan celebrations have normally kept it professional.

The Banggi incident begged a recollection of other famous mistakes, such as host Steve Harvey announcing the wrong Miss Universe in 2015, as well as the Oscars flub in February for the Best Picture category. But, while these incidents were addressed immediately, what made matters worse was that the district coordinator did not rectify the mistake until the winners’ list became viral and the real winner sought justification two days later.

The state-level Unduk Ngadau committee said this was a first “mishap”, and blamed the district-level committee for not settling the matter earlier. As both the crowned contestant and the actual winner turned up for registration last weekend for the state-level finals here, and no immediate solution was in sight, the committee deemed that the only logical action was to not have representation from Banggi this year.

Both parties are now dissatisfied as they felt an injustice had been done, seeing as how they both spent money and time to prepare for the pageant, and thus took measures to make sure the responsible parties “be held accountable”.

The crowned Banggi Unduk Ngadau wants her dignity restored and, via her lawyer, is seeking a clarification letter from the organisers as there had been no official statement on the matter. Meanwhile, the actual winner took it a step further by lodging a police report over the error and the lack of action taken to rectify the mistake.

While it was something that would haunt both ladies, who may or may not be open to enter any more beauty pageants in future, it should also serve as a lesson to Unduk Ngadau organisers, be it at district or state level.

Perhaps next time they should screen hosts before pageants, even those at the district level, as these are official events, the winners of which will represent the district at the state-level finals during an important holiday celebration attended by Sabah — and sometimes, national — VVIPs and leaders.

by KRISTY INUS .

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2017/05/244305/pageant-slip-sour-start-kaamatan

A modest Kaamatan this year

Wednesday, May 31st, 2017
Happy day: Some of the ethnic Dusuns from Ranau posing for a photo while (below) others performing the Magavau dance at the Harvest Festival 2017 celebration at KDCA hall in Penampang.

Happy day: Some of the ethnic Dusuns from Ranau posing for a photo while (below) others performing the Magavau dance at the Harvest Festival 2017 celebration at KDCA hall in Penampang.

KOTA KINABALU: With many people observing the holy month of Ramadan, it is a modest celebration at this year’s Kaamatan or Harvest Festival in the state.

However, it is no less merry with activities such as traditional sports, performances and exhibitions taking place at the Kadazandusun Cul­tural Association centre in Penam­pang despite the unpredictable weather.

Launching the traditional sports, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman said Kaamatan – one of the most important celebrations for Sabahans – should be observed meaningfully.

He said that the array of programmes lined up as well as the traditional costumes showed how rich and diverse the cultures in Sabah were.

“We should continue promoting and ensuring the continuity of our unique cultures, food and handicraft,” he said here yesterday.

Such efforts, he said, were important in ensuring that Sabah’s rich cultural diversity continued to grow and not be forgotten.

“Kaamatan is also a festival where we can learn more about each other’s ethnicity, beliefs and practices,” he said.

His speech was read out by Huguan Siou or Kadazandusun paramount chief Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan, who is also the Sabah Deputy Chief Minister.

The month-long Kaamatan festival reaches its climax today, which, among others, will see the crowning of the Unduk Ngadau (Harvest Queen).

Yesterday, the 44 beauties vying for the title introduced themselves.

by STEPHANIE LEE
Read more @ http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2017/05/31/a-modest-kaamatan-this-year-celebration-toned-down-due-to-ramadan/#6bk3QIIU2hjIQ0Uf.99

Sighting of Ramadan moon on May 26.

Monday, May 22nd, 2017
A file photo of an officer of the Federal Territories Mufti Office looking through a telescope as he performs "rukyah", the sighting of the new moon for Ramadan

A file photo of an officer of the Federal Territories Mufti Office looking through a telescope as he performs “rukyah”, the sighting of the new moon for Ramadan

KUALA LUMPUR: The sighting of the moon for the commencement of fasting for Muslims in Malaysia will take place next Friday.

The Office of the Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal said the Rulers’ Council had agreed that the date for the beginning of fasting will be based on sighting and calculation (rukyah and hisap).

“The Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal will declare on that night the date when fasting begins through radio and television,” the statement said Saturday.

The committees for the sighting of moon for Ramadan will be held on the evening of May 26 at 29 locations:

1. Pontian Kecil, Johor

2. Al-Khawarizmi Astronomy Complex, Kampung Balik Batu, Tanjung Bidara, Melaka

3. Telok Kemang, Port Dickson, Negri Sembilan

4. Bukit Melawati, Kuala Selangor, Selangor

5. Bukit Jugra, Banting, Kuala Langat, Selangor

6. Selangor Observatory, Sabak Bernam, Selangor

7. Pantai Pasir Panjang, Mukim Pengkalan Baru, Manjong, Perak

8. Sheikh Tahir Astronomy Centre, Pantai Aceh, Penang

9. Kampung Pulau Sayak, Kuala Muda, Kedah

10. Pemandangan Indah, Pulau Langkawi, Kedah

11. Menara Alor Setar, Kedah

12. Bukit Besar, Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu

13. Bukit Geliga, Kemaman, Terengganu

14. Pulau Perhentian, Besut, Terengganu

15. KUSZA Observatory, Mukim Merang, Setiu, Terengganu

16. Bukit Peraksi, Pasir Puteh, Kelantan

17. Bukit Kampung Tembeling, Mukim Manjur, Daerah Olak Jeram, Kuala Krai, Kelantan

18. Menara Bangunan SEDC, Jalan Tengku Putera Semerak, Kota Baru, Kelantan

19. Luak Esplanade, Miri, Sarawak

20. Teluk Bandung, Kuching, Sarawak

21. Tanjung Batu, Kuching, Sarawak

22. Al-Biruni Astronomy Centre, Tanjung Dumpil, Putatan, Sabah

23. Bukit Tanjong Batu, Nenasi, Pahang

BERNAMA.
Read more @
http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2017/05/21/sighting-of-ramadan-moon-on-may-26/#SE89yK80AdEomwMW.99

‘Religious leaders must lead the way’

Monday, May 8th, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR: Religious leaders should lead by example to promote a moderate way of life among the people, says Venerable Datuk K. Sri Dhammaratana Nayaka Maha Thero.

The chief monk of the 122-year-old Buddhist Maha Vihara temple in Brickfields here urged leaders of various faiths to meet more often in a show of solidarity, and to encourage their followers to work and live together.

“In those days, if we have extra papayas, bananas or chili, we will give it to our friends from other faiths. Likewise, if they have extra mangoes, they will bring it to our house.

“Unfortunately, such practices have slowly faded away. What we have to do as religious leaders is to gather more regularly,” he said, adding that leaders should set an example for others to follow.

This year’s theme for Wesak Day is Religious Moderation Towards Social Harmony.

Dhammaratana said Malaysians of different faiths should practise understanding, tolerance and patience with each other.

“Every year, 30,000 to 40,000 Buddhists participate in the Wesak Day procession in the heart of Kuala Lumpur.

“When the procession takes place, police will have to stop traffic, and many cars will have to wait.

“No matter how long it takes, they do not complain. They park and wait. This is the beauty of our country,” he said.

Dhammaratana urged Buddhists to observe Wesak Day by getting in touch with their spirituality, upholding the tenets of doing good, to avoid evil and to cultivate the mind.

“It is not about merry-making. That is what I always stress. We must try our best to spend our time improving ourselves and growing as Buddhists, especially during this auspicious day,” he said.

by ADRIAN CHAN
Read more @ http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2017/05/08/religious-leaders-must-lead-the-way-all-must-show-solidarity-and-urge-followers-to-work-and-live-tog/#81jtqG8KKmkTliu4.99