GEORGE TOWN: After a two-year lull caused by Covid-19, Buddhists will be able to visit temples to pay homage to Buddha on Wesak Day tomorrow.

Preparations are in full swing and thousands of devotees are expected to turn up at the Mahindarama Buddhist Temple in Jalan Kampar here and other temples for the celebration.

Before dawn tomorrow, devotees will offer traditional milk rice to the community of monks and this will be followed by chanting to undertake the observance of the eight precepts.

After this, there will be breakfast alms and chanting in veneration of Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha, said Mahindarama Buddhist Temple chairman Ghan Chee Tong.

He said from 3.30pm, there would be Dhamma talks in Hokkien as well as evening pooja and paritta chanting.

Ghan said while some activities have resumed, strict Covid-19 precautions would still be observed.

“All devotees must put on face masks at all times within the compound and practise reasonable physical distancing. Rela personnel will be stationed to help monitor the crowd.

“No dine-in will be allowed, Instead, packed food will be provided for takeaway. In the past, we had at least 1,000 devotees arriving, but we expect more this year,” he said.

He said with Wesak eve starting this evening, celebrations would begin with chanting followed by lighting of lotus candles.

At the temple yesterday, volunteers were seen busy cleaning up the main shrine hall, Buddha relics chamber, 24 Buddhas of the Past, Bodhi Tree area, dining hall, lecture hall, preceptor rooms and the top floor of Wisma Mahinda.

Some devotees laid out the hundreds of lotus candles for the lighting event.

Penang Buddhist Association (PBA) assistant secretary Peter Khoo said the celebration at the association in Jalan Anson would be toned down this year.

“It will be low-key to minimise the risk of Covid-19 infections as most of our devotees are elderly. On the eve, there will be chanting from 5pm to 6.30pm.

“On Wesak Day, there will be another series of chanting and prayers. Lunch packs will be provided to devotees.

“What will be missing this year will be the bathing-of-the-Buddha ritual to reduce physical contact among devotees.

“The annual charity sale will not be held this year and the float procession is also off for the third consecutive year,” he added.

Khoo said there would be no limit to the number of people present but face masks must be worn at all times and Rela personnel would be present for crowd control purposes.

He said the association would open its premises from 7am to 9pm today and 6am to 6pm tomorrow.

This is the 60th year since Wesak Day became a national public holiday in Malaysia.

This year’s Wesak theme is “Promote harmony through mutual respect and help each other”.