PETALING JAYA: The Malaysia Buddhist Festival (MBF) and 19 other Malaysian Buddhist organisations and temples are organising MYWesak60, a year-long celebration to commemorate Wesak Day’s 60th anniversary as a national public holiday.

MBF president Loka Ng Sai Kai urged the Buddhist community to visit Buddhist temples, which are their “Dhamma Home”, after an absence of two years due to Covid-19 restrictions.

The celebration’s theme is “We Are a Big Lotus – Each and Every One of Us is One of the Petals”.

A wide range of events has been planned for MYWesak60.

An online broadcast of Wesak Day messages by local Buddhist leaders featuring monastics such as Venerable B. Sri Saranankara Nayaka Maha Thera, Puzhao Buddhist Vihara abbot Ven Chi Chern and Hoeh Beng Buddhist Temple abbess Ven Chuan Wen will be held on Wesak Day today.

MYWesak60 began with the launch of the 60th Commemoration of Wesak Day on March 20, Raise the Buddhist Flag Malaysia Campaign Launch and Hoisting the Largest Buddhist Flag in Malaysia (May 8) and a Buddha & Me: Essay Writing Competition (May 1-29) being held online.

There is also an ongoing MYWesak60 Photo Competition (May 12-20) open to all residing in Malaysia.

“All can record their Wesak moments for posterity and take the opportunity to participate in the MYWesak60 Photo Competition,” said Ng.

The celebration includes other events such as the MYWesak60 Art Competition (May 1 to June 1), Dhamma Vacana Series (May to June), MYWesak60 Explorace (May 4 to Sept 30), Buddhist Songs Composition Competition (July to August), Images of Buddhism Malaysia Exhibition (2022/Nationwide Tour), Thousand People Meditation Sessions (August), Malaysian Buddhists Gratitude & Praise Ceremony (Sept 17), the book publication of the Wesak Day Celebration in Malaysia, and the closing ceremony of the 60th Commemoration of Wesak Day. The closing ceremony is in December.

With MYWesak60, Ng said MBF wanted to express gratitude to the government and local community leaders back then for honouring the Buddhist community’s wishes to designate Wesak Day as a national public holiday.

He said MBF also hoped to promote and educate the Buddhist community, especially the younger generation, on the meaning and importance of the Triple Sacred Day of Wesak and for the cooperation and sharing of resources between Buddhists across all traditions for the development of Buddhism in Malaysia.

The Buddhist community first requested Wesak Day be declared a public holiday in 1926 when Penang Mahindarama Buddhist Temple’s Ven K Gunaratana Nayaka Maha Thera proposed it to the then British colonial government.

Following the efforts of the Buddhist community and leaders of the then Malayan Buddhist Association like Ven Chuk Mor, Ven Seck Kim Beng and Ven Seck Kim Seng, the then government finally declared Wesak Day as a national public holiday from 1962.