It was early morning on Saturday, 16 September 2006 when I drove to Sungai Petani with Venerable Wei Wu, Venerable Dr. Dhammanandi and Venerable Zhen Xin for the Open Day of Tadika Cendana Sungai Petani, which is a new branch of Than Hsiang Kindergarten and Child Care Centre.
This Tadika Cendana is located in Bandar Puteri Jaya, a new township that is coming up in Sungai Petani. We arrived there at about 8.45am, but the place was already a hive of activity as most of Than Hsiang's Kindergarten and other staff had come much earlier to set the place up for the grand event. Some of the staff had even stayed overnight just so preparations for the day would go smoothly. “Thorough preparation attributes to half the success of an event” was what Venerable Wei Wu told the staff in one of his Dharma talks and it was quite apparent that they had taken this piece of advice to heart.
Sharp at 9.00am, Venerable Wei Wu unveiled the plaque showing Than Hsiang's Conviction and unlocked the door to the Tadika. Venerable Wei Wu stepped inside and was followed by invited guests, devotees, volunteers, and staff. After some prayers, Venerable Wei Wu performed the Cleansing Ceremony (Sa Jing) for the whole building.
Venerable Wei Wu then went up the stage erected at the side compound of the Tadika to start off the Children's Singing Competition. In his short speech, Venerable Wei Wu thanked everyone for their kind presence and the four judges for contributing time and effort towards making the Singing Competition a reality. Venerable Wei Wu then presented each judge with a souvenir.
The Children's Singing Competition started with the under-12 age group. There were a total of seventeen children vying for the first three prizes. In spite of their young age, none of the children showed any stage fright and some of them exhibited a certain amount of performance skill to make the competition interesting. There was a brief break before the older children came up on stage for their performance and everyone partook of the lavish spread of nonya cakes, curry puffs, fruits, fried mee, beehoon, and koay teow.
When the second group of twelve school children individually took to the stage to give their performance, it became apparent whom the three prize winners would be as they stood head and shoulders above the rest. It was more a matter of guessing who would be the champion. A sister-brother combination took the first two prizes much to the delight of the crowd present.
After the prize presentation by Venerable Zhen Xin for the under-12 age group and Venerable Dr. Dhammanandi for the older group, they all posed for the group photographs. With that the Open Day came to an end and the crowd slowly dispersed just as the sky started to pour. It had been an overcast sky in the latter part of the morning, but the rain had held till the function was over. Coincidence or the power of prayer had held off the rain? You decide.