Historic town of Jenjarom lights up for annual Lunar New Year festivities

Historic town of Jenjarom lights up for annual Lunar New Year festivities

The Lunar New Year brings the community of Jenjarom together to celebrate their rich cultural heritage

THE town of Jenjarom, located at the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, nestled between Carey Island and Banting, comes alive each year during the Lunar New Year celebration.

This historic town is home to a diverse community of around 30,000 residents, with the overwhelming majority (over 90%) being Hokkien Chinese who trace their roots to Fujianese provinces. The Hokkien dialect is commonly spoken, but other languages such as Malaysian Mandarin and Bahasa Malaysia are also used.

Dong Zen Temple Chinese New Year Lantern Floral Festival. – Abdul Razak Latif/The Vibes pic

A snapshot of Malaysia, the town is also home to ethnic Malays of Javanese, Minang, Banjarese and Bugis descent, fellow ethnic Chinese of Hakka or Teochew descent, and a small Indian community of Hindu Tamils and Punjabi Sikhs.

Jenjarom has a rich history starting from its days as an agricultural village in the early 20th century, when pig farming was significant and only a few families were Chinese.

The sights and decor around the temple is certain to capture the attention of children. – Abdul Razak Latif/The Vibes pic

During the Malayan Emergency in the 1950s, Jenjarom was one of the New Villages set up to segregate rural Chinese villagers from the Communist insurgents, and it is now the largest such ‘village’ in the state.

In the early years of independent Malaysia, the then prime minister visited the burgeoning town and announced an upgrade to its infrastructure.

One of the main attractions in Jenjarom is the Fo Guang Shan (FGS) Dong Zen Temple, which serves the Chinese Buddhist population and attracts a large number of tourists.

The Fo Guang Shan Dong Zen temple also has a vast collection of orchids and other blooms around its 16-acre grounds. – Abdul Razak Latif/The Vibes pic

During the Lunar New Year celebration, the temple displays huge lanterns over its 16-acre grounds. Adorned all around the temple are streaks of lights, rabbit-themed lanterns, and decorations, as well as a vast array of orchids and other flowers that have been carefully nurtured by the temple’s order of monks since its inception in 1994. This year’s centerpiece was a giant bunny lantern to mark the Year of the Rabbit.

The temple also boasts a serene and expansive compound that includes a variety of features. At the heart of the temple lies a grand main shrine that houses an impressive giant Buddha statue. Visitors can also enjoy the serene surroundings of the Waterdrop Teahouse, Lumbini Garden, and Sutra calligraphy hall.

For those interested in learning more about Buddhism, the temple also offers the Dong Zen Institute of Buddhist Studies. Additionally, the Fo Guang Yuan Art Gallery, exhibition halls containing artifacts and relics, audiovisual rooms, meditation and dining halls and a vegetarian restaurant, are all available for visitors to explore.

In 1999, the temple was officially recognised as a religious tourist destination by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture.

During the launch ceremony this week, the venerable Jue Cheng, FGS temple’s chief abbess called for Malaysians to continue valuing a harmonious and peaceful environment, a message that was echoed by Transport Minister Anthony Loke and Selangor Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Amiruddin Shari.

The launch of the festival also saw the attendance of a swathe of dignitaries and delegates from various Buddhist orders and embassies.

The residents of Jenjarom do their part as well in the celebration, decorating the main roads and side streets of the village with lights and decorations. The village headman Ang Peng Kee stated that the team comes up with funds to buy lights and decorations and carefully plans on how to best design and decorate the village, an effort that takes more than six months of organising.

Ladies dressed in the traditional cheongsam, or qipao. – Abdul Razak Latif/The Vibes pic

The temple’s two-week lantern and floral festival not only attracts thousands of visitors (approximately 500,000 people are expected this year) but also helps the local businesses in the village to thrive.

The village restaurants and shops enjoy good profits as visitors often stop by for a meal after visiting the temple. Additionally, villagers set up stalls selling a wide variety of items outside the temple grounds and in various locations throughout the village.

The Lunar New Year is a colourful and joyous celebration that is deeply ingrained in the culture and heritage of Jenjarom, and the whole community joins in the celebration.

source – The Vibes


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