The Malaysian Buddhist Sangha Association (MBSA) held its Annual General Meeting and the Maha Sanghikadana this year on 1st of July at Than Hsiang Temple. The origin of the Maha Sanghikadana dated back to the time of the Buddha when Venerable Maudgalyayana requested the Lord Buddha's help in rescuing his mother from suffering in the realm of the hungry ghost. The Buddha advised him to perform the Maha Sanghikadana on Pravarana Day (15th day of the 7th lunar month) and the mother was saved. Since then, many Buddhists follow Venerable Maudgalyayana's example by performing the Maha Sanghikadana to benefit their parents, both living and deceased.
The Maha Sanghikadana held this year in Than Hsiang Temple was a success judging by the attendance of the many Sangha members and the overwhelming support of the devotees. A total of 165 bhikshus and bhikshunis took part in the Maha Sanghikadana.
The day's programme began with the Pindapatta, the symbolical offering of rice to the Triple Gem in Alms Bowls. As early as 7.00am in the morning, pious devotees were seen performing their homage at the Hall of Great Compassion (Da Bei Dian), where five alms bowls and pre-cooked rice had been arranged for their convenience in performing the Pindapatta..
Various counters ranging from registration stations for the participating Sangha members, to LCD lamps (for devotees to offer) to donation and souvenir sales counters lined the passage way to the Than Hsiang lift lobby. The proceeds from the event would be channeled to the education fund of M.B.S.A for sponsoring Sangha members studying at the Malaysian Buddhist Institute and the International Buddhist College .
The Sangha members began arriving intermittently for the MBSA Annual General Meeting scheduled at 9.00am in the Main Shrine Hall at Level 6 of Than Hsiang Temple. The meeting ended at 10.10am . The devotees taking part in the lamp lighting ceremony were then ushered into the hall and leading the ceremony were Venerable Chi Kuan, Venerable Wei Wu and Yang Berhomat Datuk Teng Hock Nam .
In his opening speech, Venerable Wei Wu stressed the importance of education in making the Sangha effective propagators of the teachings of the Buddha. Venerable Wei Wu thanked the devotees for their generous support in making the Maha Sanghikadana another successful event of the year. Datuk Teng, in his address, expressed gratitude for the opportunity to learn the teachings of the Buddha and in performing the meritorious deed of Dana. The organizing chairman, Mr. Chan Keong Teong, appealed to all Buddhist to perpetuate the spirit of Maha Sanghikadana through the mutual, interdependent role of the Sangha members as the dharma teachers and the laity as the providers of the Sangha's requisites.
As in the previous year, the Dana was held in two separate venues for the bhikshus and bhikshunis of the Theravada and the Mahayana traditions. At 10.40am with the ending of the lamp lighting rite, the Theravada bhikkhus proceeded to the Multi Purpose Hall at Level 5 for the Maha Sanghikadana proceedings. A total of 140 Theravada bhikkhus took their seats with the volunteer attendants standing by, well poised to serve them with food and drinks. Before the food was served, the devotees joined the bhikkhus in chanting the Three Refuges, the Five Precepts and Pali suttas. After the Sangha members had finished their meals, the devotees then proceeded to offer each and every bhikkhu a bag of requisites comprising soap, towel, medicated oil, Chinese medicine and 3-in–1 beverage sachets. Venerable Praku in his dharma talk commented on the invaluable contribution of Venerable Wei Wu to the Buddhist community in Penang in particular and the world in general. The proceeding ended with the transference of merits to all sentient beings.
While the Maha Sanghikadana for the Theravada bhikkhus was being held in the Multi Purpose Hall, the Mahayana tradition proceedings continued with the chanting of the Ullambana Sutra led by Venerable Chi Kuan at the Main Shrine Hall. The Sutra recitation ended at 11.45am and the Mahayana Sangha members accompanied by about 200 devotees adjourned to the ground floor canteen for the Maha Sanghikadana ceremony. The Maha Sanghikadana ceremony was successfully brought to a close by 12.15pm and as usual, all devotees were cordially invited to have their vegetarian lunch provided by Than Hsiang Temple before leaving home with their mind full of Dharma bliss.