Thousands of worshippers flocked to Borobudur Temple in Magelang, Central Java, from Wednesday night until early on Thursday morning as Buddhists around the globe observed Waisak, or Buddha’s Day of Enlightenment, on Thursday.
The Council of Buddhist Communities (Walubi) Sangha council coordinator, Tadisa Paramita Mahasthavira, expressed his hope that the diversity of Indonesia would always be protected, so the country could be noble, wise and full of love, as well as tolerant, sympathetic and respectful of harmony.
“Peace is engineered by humans’ wise thoughts. War, on the other hand, is created by humans’ foolish thoughts,” the monk said.
Vice President Boediono, Religious Affairs Minister Suryadharma Ali and Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo were also at the celebration.
Speaking at the temple, Boediono said that as a plural nation, Indonesia had to uphold tolerance and had to maintain its unity. “Let’s develop a noble attitude,” he said.
Several surveys, including those conducted by the Wahid Institute and Setara Institute, have shown an increase of violence against religious minority groups every year.
In August last year, a bomb exploded inside the Ekayana Buddhist Vihara in West Jakarta, injuring three people and destroying parts of the temple site.
However, amid calls for the nation to maintain its diversity, Waisak celebrations this year were observed in peace across the country.
The Waisak procession in Borobudur itself began on Tuesday morning, when Buddhist monks took holy water from the Umbul Jumprit spring in neighboring Temanggung regency to Mendut Temple in Mungkid, near Borobudur.
Foreign Buddhists also took part in the Pradaksina procession, which is performed by walking around Borobudur Temple three times. The worshippers came from numerous countries, including India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, the US, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, China and Australia.
In Semarang, Central Java, dozens of Buddhists took part in a meditation program at Tanah Putih temple, held to observe Waisak.
Led by Buddhist monk Cattamano Thera, the participants sat together while waiting for the moment of Waisak, which fell at 2:15:37 a.m. on Thursday.
“We are all here to pay respect to the Buddha as he was born, when he received enlightenment and when he died,” Cattamano said.
In Klaten, Central Java, presidential hopeful Joko “Jokowi” Widodo of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) joined a Waisak celebration outside Sewu Temple, Prambanan, organized by the Indonesian Buddhists Family (KBI).
“At this opportunity I want to say happy Waisak to all Buddhists, here and across the country,” Jokowi said on Wednesday night.
Jokowi stayed at the ceremony for about 45 minutes and took the chance to talk to KBI executives and the chairman of the Sangha Agung Indonesia, Nyana Suryanadi.
“We talked about what Buddhist monks can do to develop the country,” Nyana said.
Meanwhile, Jakarta Deputy Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama attended the Waisak celebration at Vihara Ekayana Arama in Duri Kepa, West Jakarta.
He said that Buddha’s philosophy of leading by example should inspire the people of Jakarta.
“There are a lot of underprivileged people in Jakarta. More than 50 percent of the capital’s population lives in poverty. I expect residents to pay attention to their neighbors so that they can help each other out,” he said.
Sita W. Dewi contributed to this story./The Jakarta Post