Sunday, 14 February 2016

Fo Guang Shan Dong Zen Temple, Jenjarom - CNY 2016

After a one-year absence, it feels amazing to finally get back here. Dong Zen Temple has a different theme for each Chinese New Year celebration which last for the entire 15 days.

Welcome to the Year of the Fire Monkey,  contrary to popular belief, the change of zodiac sign will set out on February 4, 2016 in China Standard Time or we call it LI CHUN立春.

It is the first day of the 24 solar terms and the first day of spring.

Many people have mistaken about it, they thought the first day of the Lunar New Year is the new year day农历初一.

Li Chun is not the day where Chinese people celebrates Chinese New Year. The Chinese celebrates our New Year based on the cycles of the Chinese Lunar Calendar.  And the 1st day the Lunar calendar is known as 大年初一 (Da Nian Chu Yi) falls on 8th February 2016.

If a child was born on February 4, 2016, the child that born that time forward is a monkey zodiac child instead of goat although February 8 2016 is the start of the Lunar calendar. I also got confused, all the time I thought my cousin and I shared the same Chinese animal Zodiac as my cousin, born in the same year as I was in the year of Horse. He's turned out rather as he is a Goat zodiac.

At the Fo Guang Shan Dong Zen Temple here which is generally quiet and calm but  the tranquil atmosphere  make a dramatic change to colorful and lively festival when Chinese New Year comes around again. It created an almost party-like atmosphere, if I may say so.

 Let the show begin! Lit with thousands of mesmerizing display of colors lights at the launch of its annual Lantern and Floral Festival. This special uniqueness design of Chinese lanterns shaped like Chinese historical figures, animal signs or zodiac symbols and more.

A giant sign board erected outside the temple. The theme chosen by the festival organizers of the temple's Lantern and Floral Festival this year is “Be Smart and Agile." 

When it comes to the monkey, I can't image a celebration for the Year of the Monkey without him... the One and Only Sun Wukong, The Monkey King in the Chinese literary classic “Journey to the West."

 As you step into the temple front gate, the cute monkey mascot for FGS is Sun Wukong  in the center stage will greet you. When you  walked down the aisle, 11 others animals on the left and right sides just can't wait for their turn to be the central figure.

Where did the Ox went? Sun Wukong help me to find.

 Lantern Festival begins at night. It turned the FGS Dong Zen temple into an eye-popping images and it truly takes you into another world.

A total of 72 monkey-shaped lanterns adorn the temple grounds to usher in the Year of the Monkey, inspired by Sun Wukong ability can transform into 72 different animals and things.The night was come to live when all the light turn on and objects seems to be moving a bit to make it alive.

The statues of the 18 Arhat gaze upon you with expressions ranging from smiles to anger as you step into the temple grounds.

Past animal zodiac- Sheep, Present - Monkey, Next - Rooster.

Little Stone Monk loves animals

Floor plan of Fo Guang Shan Dong Zen Temple 佛光山东禅寺

Map Legend

Selfie sticks seem to be everywhere these days. Believe it or not when invented in the 1980s by Hiroshi Ueda, it  was not a commercial success.  Maybe too ahead of its time before the arrival of smart phones. Now widely a success but can  considered to be a public nuisance,  it has been banned from stadiums, concerts and  museums.

If Sun Wukong The Monkey King is around FGS  Dong Zen Temple he will scratching his head feeling  dumbfounded, I thought I was the only one with magical staff that could grow or shrink but... many of these visitors also have one. Yup our selfie stick can shrink to mere inches in length so they're very pocket-friendly. Hey! Wukong - Eat Your Heart Out.

Just one of those rare group happy moments. All of  my sister daughters are grown-up and working elsewhere. 

The sun is going down.  Happy hours begin as soon.

Fo Guang Shan Dong Zen Temple Lantern Festival to  get into full swing. Tourists began to swarm the temple. We arrived early at 4pm and found a parking spot near the main door. Latecomers will likely need to park far away as most people are reluctant to leave early.

When the day turns into night, visitors arrived in great numbers. I reckon that during hot afternoon, the weather gets so warm therefore visitors prefer during cooler nighttime when the temple transformed into a glittering wonderland of red lanterns, digital lights and illuminated gardens, like a fairy land.

Smile, let me see those teeth.

Themed “Be Smart and Agile”, the festival also highlighted about 5,000 orchids of a several varieties that were all in full bloom would be showcased.
 Here's to monkeying around in 2016. Happy Chinese New Year!All thanks to the wonder of the selfie stick.  I bought two selfie stick, and it was totally worth it.
A selfie is a self-portrait photograph, typically taken with a digital camera or smartphone but with a group shot of nothing much more than their own selves what do we call?  Perhaps, all selfie sticks should instead be called groupie sticks.

 My niece's camera had about a zillion photos shoots till  her cell phone has run out of battery but don't worry I brought along a portable power pack to recharge.
It would be handy if the temple also provide  Mobile Phone Charger Vending Machine someday.

To take good photographs of the night scene, you're going to need a real camera with manual exposure mode. Most smartphones aren't capable of this due to sensor fails to capture enough light to get a decent picture.

May Fortune Smile Upon You in the Year of the Monkey.

 The real party comes alive night with use of robotic devices to emulate a hand movement. 

  Rock n roll monkey! Well, it's one for the money, / Two for the show, / Three to get ready, / Now go, monkey, go.

I thought this year Festival will be a smaller scale due to the global economic slowdown with less lantern exhibiting on the front portion of the main building complex.  I got it wrong, all the good stuff are hidden from view at the back.

Have You Met My Friend, Sun Wukong? 
Yo! Fight demon! What's there to be afraid.
At the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit, Sun Wukong declared himself as,"
I am Sun Wu Kong the Great Sage Equal of Heaven and the Handsome Monkey "

Introducing my fren, Puff The Magic Dragon

Photobombing Sheep- Hay guys, y'all taking pics without me?

 You've got monkeys on your back!

Give Us A Nice Big Monkey Smile.

Do You Want a Banana?

Naughty Monkey Hanging on the Tree. Teamwork prevails! 

People born in a year of the Monkey. Personality have traits like mischievousness, curiosity, and cleverness make them very naughty but don't take my remarks literally.

You look a little bit like "Donkey Kong"

This dynamic lantern display is a glimpse of the sea decorations

 Wonderful Garden Path At Night Illuminated By LED light
Reflection of Chinese lanterns and LED lights alike quaint water town scenery of  Zhouzhuang Water Town, Kunshan, China.

You can make a wish.

 I'm amazed.  All of the monkey lanterns were made by the nuns and temple workers. 

I think what they try to portray here is no  matter how fast Sun Wukong may move, he cannot escape the palm of the Buddha? 

 To prove his trail, he marked the pillars with a phrase declaring himself "the great sage equal to heaven" (and in other versions, urinated on the pillar he signed on). (Ha Ha Ha Ha) You lost the bet , Sun Wukong ," said Buddha. The five “pillars” he had jumped to before were actually the five fingers of the Buddha’s hand.

At the below there are rows of glass cases which depict the stories of Sun Wukong. When he hatches from the stone, he crawls and bows in the four directions as beams of light burst forth from his eyes just like big spotlight that even reaches heaven.

Monkey see, monkey do. Nice pose of Sun Wukong but I don't want to try and hurt my back.

 If you remember he is the main character in the novel Journey to the West written by Wu Cheng'en. In the novel, he is a monkey born from a mystical stone from the sky.

Sun Wukong, or Monkey King, was born from a magic stone that sat boulder atop of the Mountain of Flower and Fruit, that had been receiving the powers of the of the heavens and the earth since the beginning of time and has thereby gained miraculous powers.

 Lived on the Huāguǒ-shān mountain (literally meaning,"mountain of flowers and fruit") and acquires supernatural powers through Taoist practices.

Wukong eventually obtained an “as-you-will golden-banded staff” known as the Rú Yì Bàng, which he could shrink to the size of a needle and keep inside his ear, or even as small as a grain of rice. The staff could also be expanded to be as high as Heaven.The monkey king also forced the dragon king to offer him other magical "gifts" including his beautiful golden armour. 

Such a Naughty Monkey. "All Hell Breaks Loose" when Sun Wukong he realized they made a monkey out of him  when he learns how low his job is as the Keeper of the Heavenly Horses. The Army of Heaven's 100,000 cannot match the prowess and wisdom of the monkey king. 

 After he wreaked havoc in the Heavenly Kingdom. He was severely punished by Buddha by sealed within a rock prison under the Five Finger Mountain. Here Wukong remained imprisoned for five centuries until he offered to serve Xuanzang, the Tang Priest, who was destined to make the journey to the West to retrieve the Buddhist scriptures for Tang.

Guanyin understood that the monkey would be hard to control, and therefore gave Xuanzang a gift from the Buddha: a magical headband which, once Sun Wukong was tricked into putting it on himself. With a special chant, the band would tighten and cause unbearable pain to the Sun Wukong head, only when he misbehaved. 

To redeem himself, he is given a reprieve and assigned to accompanies and protect monk Xuanzang on a quest to obtain the holy Buddhist scriptures from India.
Wu Kong was very receptive of this idea and his teacher rename him by that title Sun Wukong."Sun" is a common Chinese surname, and "Wukong" is a Buddhist given.

Together with other pilgrims - Pigsy, Monk Sha and dragon horse , they overcome 81 calamities and confrontations in the form of supernatural phenomena and monsters before reaching their goal and returning to China with Buddhist texts for translation into Chinese from India.

Buddha rewards them for their loyalty and hard work—with immortal life and happiness, Sun Wukong was finally granted Buddha hood or zheng guo for his service for successfully completed the mission travels to India to escort  Xuanzang monk on his journey to retrieve Buddhist sutras back home to China.  In the end, he is given the rank of the "Victorious Fighting Buddha"Dou-zhan-sheng-fu (鬥戰勝佛).

I guess due to he was born from a huge rock and his character was so interesting, born irrepressibly naughty but turn out to be loyal, trustworthy and dependable on pilgrimage to the West.

Inevitably he's the best candidate to represent icon of FGS CNY Lantern and Floral Festival .I know that Wu Cheng'en wrote Journey to the West, there is a slight possibility that Sun Wukong is real.

Light Offering Ceremony started at 8.30 pm

About one million devotees from all walks of life  are expected to offer prayers at the Fo Guang Shan (FGS) Dong Zen Temple in Jenjarom, Banting and for others regardless of race and religion they are there just having fun taking pictures of the wonderful scene.

A visit to the FGS Buddhist temple for the New Year has become a tradition for many locals and that several activities have been lined up for the throughout the festival.

One of the program was Costume Parade which started at 9.30 pm on the day we visited, on 10th February 2016.

 Get Ready to take photos and see them in the Parade! 

Walk straight. Don't slouch "Huangdi"

Wow! Ni hao... Xin nian kuai'le.

Ahn Yong Haseyo. Whip-woo "Pretty Korean Girls"

Why So Serious? Need to loosen up a bit.

Ong Ah! Huat Ah! Hopefully Choi San Yeh (God of Prosperity) can restore Global Economic Stability and Growth.

FUYOH!! Mei Li. Just Curious, is it really holy water blessed and not plain water? 

 Daily Program for CNY 2016  celebration programs at FGS Dong Zen temple

General advice for all 
Do not stray from your tour group, even if your have your own group. You can easily get lost an crowded area of 16 acres, especially children.  Keep an eye on your kids on their whereabouts  and other family members. Make sure never ever let them out of your sight while busy taking selfie.

When you aim your camera flash in the dark, please consider other visitors' eyes. Selfie stick can create potential risks of injury or get in other people's way, Please selfie responsibly.

Put all your litter in rubbish bins, or take it away with you. Kindly remind of no cigarette smoking as we already enough exposed to incense smoke in indoor environments.

When in busy, crowded areas where signs are harder to see, carry your bag in front of you and close to your body,  keep purses away from the door. Crowded places such as busy attractions are the perfect places for pickpockets to carry out their business. Not all visitors come to the temple are good person, some of them have ulterior motive.

 Would be nice if these icons were actually 3 wise monkeys? A representation of a command to “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil." One covering his ears, who hears no evil; and One covering his mouth, who speaks no evil and lastly one covering his eyes who see no evil.

Miss out on the photo shoot of imitating 3 wise monkey. Why didn't they create this for the festival? Maybe can create a  Life size Standing  Cardboard Cutout you can put your face through just for photo shoot.  It would be fun.

A monkey riding a horse symbolizes getting promoted quickly but my  interpretation of the lantern is regarding Sun Wukong invited to become "Keeper of the Heavenly Horse" that is nothing more than just a glorified stable boy.

Officially is from 10am to 10pm daily but I'm not so sure about the closing time as scores of people still attended the festival even as I left at 11pm.

That's All Folks. Don't chicken out next year. I meant next year is Rooster time to be king of animals zodiac. See You Again.

Everyone was reluctant to leave. It has been more fun than a barrel of monkeys!

A grand and vibrant arch welcoming  and bid adieu to visitors to Kampung Baru Sungai Jarom's which is also known as Kampung Bahagia or Happy Village. Many villagers were quite happy until  visitors and tourists bring traffic congestion to the village perhaps?

The Fo Guang Shan Dong Zen Temple’s Lantern and Floral Festival is open from 10am to 10pm daily until February 22 and admission is free.


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