May 2012, my office mates (Elsa and Rifki) and I planned to see celebration of Vesak Day 2012 in Borobudur Temple. Vesak Day is a feast day for Buddhist that is celebrated annually on May and full moon. In 2012, Vesak Day is on May 6 (Sunday). In Indonesia, the biggest celebration of Vesak Day takes place at Mendut Temple (in the morning) and Borobudur Temple (in the night). Mendut and Borobudur are Buddhist Temple located in Magelang Regency, Central Java Province, around 40 km from Jogja (Yogyakarta) to the northwest. Borobudur is the biggest temple in Indonesia and one of UNESCO World Heritage Site.
We went to Jogja from Jakarta by an air-con economic class train Friday evening on May 4. The ticket fare are around 150K IDR. We arrived at Jogja Railway Station in the next day (Saturday morning). Jogja is my hometown and my parents still live in Jogja, so Rifki and I can stay on my family’s house. Elsa prefers to stay at her sister’s boarding house who is studying at Gadjah Mada University Yogyakarta. My parents pick us up from station with their car. We drop Elsa off and then we go to my family’s house. Because the Vesak Day Celebration was still the next day, that day we decided to go to the beaches in Gunung Kidul, a regency in the east of Jogja.
The day is coming. We start from Jogja at around 7 am. I drove my father’s car and it needed around 1 hour. We arrived at Mendut at 8 am. I parked my car in the left of street just before Mendut Temple. There were many cars and bus parking on this street. We only walked around 300 m to reach Mendhut Temple. There were a lot of people in Mendut Complex and surrounding area. Many Buddhists prayed in front of the temple. It was open for public so we could go inside the complex and take pictures. The moment of the celebration in 2012 was at 10:34:49 (GMT+7). This moment time was different in every year. We could check the time at WALUBI website here. We could see the schedule too. After that procession, Monks and all Buddhist walked in a procession from Mendut to Borobudur that is around 6 km.
When people started to walk, my friends and I went back to my car and went to Kledung Pass (mountainside between Mt. Sindoro and Mt. Sumbing), road between Temanggung and Wonosobo. We planned to spend a time there while we were waiting for ceremonial at Borobudur Temple in the evening. Mendut/Borobudur – Kledung Pass needed not more than 2 hours driving.
We arrived at Borobudur at 6 pm. Area around Borobudur complex was not too crowded. I parked my car outside the complex. There were many spaces that were prepared and operated by local people being parking lots. I chose a parking that we could go away quickly when the Vesak ceremony ended.
We walked from our parking to the temple. We just followed other people that walked in groups. We thought that our direction was one, the temple. There were many tents when we walked through the temple yard. When we arrived in front of the temple, there were many people who sat down on the floor and face the temple. We took some pictures first and then sat down in back row. We followed all the ceremony with just sitting on the floor. I thought that Buddhists were as many as the visitors/tourists. The most awaited agenda of the ceremony was lantern release into the air. This agenda closed the ceremony.
There were a thousand lanterns would be released. They were distributed by the committee to the visitors too but only the visitors that had a coupon, for free. We didn’t know when the coupons were distributed. Nevertheless, the committee distributed to the visitors who didn’t have a coupon but we had to substitute it with 100K IDR for donation. It was OK! Finally, we had 1 lantern to be release!
We disclosed and prepared our lantern. It was ready to be burnt and released into the air. We waited command from the master of ceremony when we released the lantern so they would fly at the same time. Nevertheless, not all people knew how to turn on and operate the lantern so they didn’t fly at the same time. I had operated lantern before so I could operate it smoothly. For some people, these lanterns are a form of prayer from human that is sent to God. People wish their prayers and hopes will be delivered to God and God will grant their prayers and hopes.
Finally, lanterns flied into the night sky. Damn, it was a really beautiful scene!!!
The reasons why we must attend Vesak Day Ceremony in Borobudur Temple:
- Borobudur Temple is one of the biggest Buddha temple in the world and one of UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- I think the best view of Borobudur Temple is at Vesak Day.
- I think Vesak Ceremony in Borobudur is one of the biggest Vesak Ceremony in the world.
- The scene of the ceremony is so awesome.
Even though tourists can go into the location of the ceremony and it is for free, tourists have to respect serenity of the ceremony and buddhists who are praying. Please behave and keep quiet. We hope that chaos which happened at Vesak Day Ceremony 2013 won’t recur and the next Vesak Day Ceremony will run serenely and peacefully.
Thanks to Rifki for the nice photos ^^