Friday, April 14, 2006

Multi Cultural Malaysia :
Three faiths, three events, one day

Borrowed from The Star Newspaper ( Malaysia )


THERE is something good about April 14. The date is of significance to the Tamil Hindus, the Sikhs and the Christians. It commemorates the beginning of a New Year, the birth of a brotherhood and the death of an innocent to save the world, respectively.

TOMORROW may just be another Friday for some but, to others, it holds special religious meanings.

Members of the ‘bajan’ team getting prepared for the singing of hymns during the Vasakhi celebrations.
To the Tamil Hindus, April 14 is their New Year. To the Christians, it is Good Friday and, to the Sikhs, it is Vasakhi.

Gurdwaras, Hindu temples and churches everywhere will hold special prayers to commemorate these holy events.

While some see it as a mere coincidence, others think it to be a day for triple joy.

Jaswant Kaur, 54, said Vasakhi was the most important event in the Sikh calendar.

Christians getting ready for Good Friday and Easter celebrations at the Church of St Francis Xavier in Petaling Jaya.
“We celebrate the birth of Khalsa,’’ she said. “It is celebrated by Sikhs all over the world.’’

Ajit Muker Singh, 58, said Vasakhi was an event important to the Sikh community.

“The fact that it is also a special day for the Tamils and Christians makes it all the more special,’’ he said.

The Gurdwara Sahib Petaling Jaya priest Paramjit Singh said the celebration began in India in 1699 when Guru Gobind Singh organised the order of the Khalsa by baptising five Sikhs.

“That day, which is called Vasakhi, normally falls on April 13 or April 14 and it is celebrated with the reciting of the holy book Sri Guru Granth Sahib at Sikh temples non-stop from April 12 to April 14,’’ he said.

Vasakhi also coincides with the harvest festival, which is celebrated on April 13, according to the solar calendar.

“Temples offer free vegetarian food during the three days and hymns will be sung all through the night,’’ said Paramjit Singh.

For the Tamil Hindus, the New Year begins at 7.11am (Malaysian time).

“The Hindu almanac for the New Year lays down the details of the planets and stars’ positions,’’ said Ganesan Gorukkal, the chief priest of the 60-year-old Sree Arulmeega Veera Hanuman temple in Brickfields.

He said one was able to predict the general happenings for the year based on these readings.

The Tamil Hindus would spruce up their homes a day before the New Year.

Jaswant Kaur ... ‘a most important event’ Ajit
The prayer room will be cleansed and decorated with flowers and fruits, and a lamp is lit.

Some believe that the “lady of the house’’ would be the first to wake up and she would then lead her family members, whose eyes will be closed, straight to the altar, where they will open their eyes for the first time in the New Year.

Housewife M. Logesh, 32, plans to cook vegetarian dishes for her family.

“I will make ponggal (sweetened milk rice) and cook five dishes after which we will go to the temple,’’ she said.

For Christians, Good Friday commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on the cross.

“We will retrace the steps Jesus took in the Stations of the Cross,’’ said assistant parish pastor Father O.C. Lim of Church of St Francis Xavier Petaling Jaya.

“It is a significant day, because even though Jesus died, but by his death we, humans, are saved from our sins.

“We may think it to be a tragic day, that an innocent man had to die a criminal’s death, but on a spiritual level, it is Good Friday because upon his death, Jesus saved us from sin,’’ he said. “And, that alone is a reason to be joyful.’’

The week culminates with Easter Sunday on April 16, with the resurrection of Jesus, which also marks the end of a 40-day Lent period when Christians observe fasting with prayers and abstinence.

Today, too, holds special meaning for the Christians.

Holy Thursday is a day when Christian priests re-enact what Jesus did to his apostles some 2,000 years ago – wash their feet.

“It is a symbolic gesture so that Christians will serve others as Jesus did,’’ said Father Lim.

Happy Celebrating, everyone

1 comment:

c o n s u e l a said...

Happy Aloha Good Friday and Happy Easter Letty! :)