Monday, May 23, 2005

Wesak Day march

I participated in the Wesak Day walk yesterday evening. My colleague who attended it last year said it was an interesting experience and fun too. Since I had no plans, I thought I would go and experience it for myself.

It was a ten kilometer walk, starting from the temple in Brickfields all the way to Pertama Complex. Along the way, we passed by Klang Bus Stand, the National Mosque, Bank Negara and Sogo. At the traffic lights at Pertama, the route U-turn and we retraced our steps back to the temple, but now on the other side of the road.

The plan was to have dinner at KL Sentral before going to the temple. While having dinner at McDonald’s, I had a feeling that some of the other customers there were going for the walk too, from the way they dressed.

We left Sentral at seven, as the walk was to start at half past seven. We didn’t actually go to the temple after that. It was almost impossible, as devotees had already taken their positions in the float. When we neared the temple, we could see the head of the float. The tail of the float would be where the temple is and I think it was at least a kilometer away.

However, my colleague wanted to go to the temple. So we waded through the hundreds of bodies, as we did have time anyway. We had another colleague who brought her friends too and they were leaving the temple at the time. In this crowd of thousands of people, we did meet them as they move forward to the front and us in the opposite direction.

At one junction of the road, there was a stall that sells pretty lotus shaped candles. These candles were carried by devotees during the march, while chanting. There were others who carried the normal long candles instead.

After buying the candles, we headed to the front of the procession. The float and the people have started to move.

The evening sky has turned dark. It was a beautiful sight to see people carrying candles, marching en masse, chanting. There were young and old people, couples holding hands, even foreigners joined in the march.

If only I have brought a camera. If only I could capture the moment.

There were people lining up the sideways, on the kerb. There were St John’s Ambulance members. Traffic policemen were there to control the traffic and to clear the roads. The roads had been closed for the march, no doubt causing inconvenience to others.

Yup, it was just like a National Day march.

I seldom go to events with thousands of people. The energy and the camaraderie were almost tangible. It was indeed an eye opening and interesting experience.

I will probably do it again next year.

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