Saturday, April 7, 2007

Holy Friday for Malaysians

It was a Holy Friday for Malaysians as they headed for the churches, temples, shrines and mosques yesterday.

While Muslims converged at mosques for their Friday prayers, Christians attended Good Friday masses, devotees of Kuan Yin thronged temples while Hindus prayed to Lord Ganesha, the elephant-head God to remove all obstacles.

The scene was a colourful one at Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling – Penang’s street of harmony – where a mosque, a Chinese temple, a Hindu temple and a church have stood near one another for over a century.

At the 189-year-old St George’s Church, more than 100 parishioners of South-East Asia’s oldest Anglican church attended the service of meditation at noon.

Poignant reminder: Brother Go carrying the cross during the Way of the Cross procession around the Church of St Francis of Assisi in Cheras yesterday.
Meanwhile, the Kuan Yin temple down the road was a hive of activity with stalls selling vegetarian food, prayer objects and birds, which devotees bought and set free from their cages.

Nearby, Lord Ganesha devotee N. Kalavathy said the Sankatahara Chathurthi was a special day to pray to Lord Ganesha to remove all obstacles.

She said she was “very happy” that different religious prayers were conducted on the same day.

In Kuala Lumpur, more than 300 parishioners braved the hot afternoon sun to attend a special mass at the Church of St Francis of Assisi in Cheras, here.

Father Valentine Gompok presided over the service while Brother Francis Go Sheau Peng carried the cross during the Way of the Cross procession around the church compound.

Catholics take part in the Way of the Cross procession by stopping and meditating at 14 stations that serve as a reminder of Jesus' suffering and sacrifices for humankind.

Special prayers: Devotee R.S Shan, praying to Lord Ganesha at Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling.
In Malacca, thousands of devotees from all over Malaysia and Singapore, including many non-Christians, converged at St Peter's Church.

The service, laced with age-old Portuguese and Hispanic traditions, included a procession of the Statue of the Dead Lord on a wooden bier and a candlelight procession in the church compound in the evening.

Among the non-Christians who attended the service were Ipoh residents Mah Peng Kiong and his wife Lilian Teoh who have been coming to St Peter's for the past eight years.

The couple, staunch Buddhists who jointly run a daycare centre in Teluk Intan, offered 1.5m-long candles and thanksgiving prayers.

Birthday wishes: The Kuan Yin temple in Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling was filled to capacity with devotees to celebrate the goddess’ birthday yesterday.
In Sabah, many Christians carried crosses up various hills in rural areas throughout the state during sunrise while churches were crowded with people for masses and special prayers for Good Friday, a public holiday here.

In Kg Maang, one of the many kampungs in Penampang near Kota Kinabalu, 17 people carried up crosses as a symbolic gesture of Jesus' suffering and death.

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