Preparations for Hari Waisak
The day before Hari Waisak, the Buddhist followers began their preparations for their pilgrimage to Borobudur tomorrow.
Late afternoon, they began arriving. Most are Indonesian but there are also followers from Thailand and Malaysia. The Indonesians all are wearing a shirt or jacket with the name of their group on the back. There is the ‘Walubi’ (one local joked this stands for wanita luar biasa!) wearing white shirts with black writing on the back. The walubi seemed to be the largest group and were also the main group responsible for the organisation of the entire event. There were many other groups, some wearing yellow shirts with blue hats and another group wearing red shirts. There are also many different groups of monks. Some wearing saffron robes, some wearing crimson robes, some in grey robes and also a couple wearing white robes and one important looking monk wearing chocolate robes.
I was sitting enjoying my kelapa mudah when suddenly the police started clearing the road in front of the back gate.The walubi edged the red carpet leading up the centre of an enormous marquee in front of the Mundut Temple forming 2 lines. A ute appeared and it was quickly swamped on one side by people bearing cameras and on the other by the walubi who were not lining up. The ute was covered in colourful Hari Waisak banners and had Indonesian flags flying from poles attached to the cab. Reaching the waiting walubi was delayed slightly while the power lines were raised using branches so that the flags could pass. The back of the truck was full of beautifully carved wooden decanters resting under a canopy decorated with Buddhist coloured curtains. Each decanter was lifted carefully out of the truck and passed to the waiting walubi who as a production line, passed them to the front tables under the marquee. There must have been hundreds of them because it took quite a while and by the end the photographers had all moved on, allowing me to get a good shot myself!
The next major event was the arrival of another ute; this one carrying a torch in the shape of a lotus. I had seen hundreds of these torches earlier in the day at Borobudur around the base of the temple. A man climbed into the truck and then the walubi passed him bamboo rods with a wick in one end. He lit each one using the torch on the back of the ute and passed them back to the walubi who carried them into the marquee. Apparently the huge candle looking rods were all made from natural materials, even the wicks.
After the lighting of the giant candles, a young Buddhist choir got up and stood at the front of the marquee and began singing. It was absolutely beautiful.
While the choir was singing, police started scouring the grounds using metal detectors and prods. I didn’t feel too comfortable when I policeman shoved a long metal prod into the small hedge in front of me! They then checked the base of the banyon tree. It was supposed to make us feel reassured but for me it had the opposite effect!
For obvious reasons, I headed to the nearby Buddhist Monastery. It is such a peaceful place with statues of Buddha either reclining or sitting throughout both in the garden areas and in buildings as well as many pools full of koi. Apparently visitors are welcome to come in and sit in on morning prayers and meditation. Tracey Watson, you would love it here!
The sun started to go down and the full moon shone brightly behind Candi Mundut. Locals began arriving in droves and the area outside the temple gates became like a fair ground. It was so colourful. People selling just about anything and everything. From staplers to children’s toys. All very cheap with quality to match.