Eid Mubarak's Holiday: Strolled Around Vihara Buddhagaya Semarang

Eighteen years spent my life in Semarang, I never had any idea that my hometown is a religious city. However, when you visit Semarang, you'll realize that most of the city's landmark are worship place. Start from the most popular one, Sam Poo Kong Temple for Confucian, Blenduk Church for Christian, the Great Mosque of Central Java for Moslem, until this.. Vihara Buddhagaya for Buddhist. (My Balinesse friend also added one, Pura Agung Giri Natha for Hindus, but I just heard that name once--I gonna check it soon.)

Vihara Buddhagaya also well known as Vihara Watugong, refers to the area which is popular with the name of "Watugong". I found out that the name of "Watugong" came from a huge stone which looks like gong (a traditional Javanesse music equipment which includes in gamelan set).

You do not even need to pay for the entrance ticket here. Perhaps because the administrator of Vihara Buddhagaya emphasizes the function of this area as worship place, not as a tourism spot. Moreover, same as the other city landmarks of Semarang which I mentioned earlier, there's no tour guide in Vihara Buddhagaya. So, you just come and stroll around, bewitch by the building, interior and activity, particularly in Pagoda Avalokitesvara which becomes the center attention of this area.

Pagoda Avalokitesvara looks like that it has seven levels outside, but actually, there's only one room with high roof inside. An enormous Buddha in gold stored on it, along with few mini statues and Kwan Sie Im Po Sat, a male form of goddess of affection, Kwan Im. Then, outside the room, the administrator displayed five medium statues; Chang Shou Guan Yin, Song Zi Guan Yin, Wei Tuo Pu Sa, Song Nu Guan Yin and Yin Yuan Guan Yin. All coloured in gold.

When I visited this place, I saw a number of Chinese family who still preserving their culture by speaking in Mandarin and prayed in here. They bought myrrh from the officer, incinerated it in front of Buddha statue and the five god and goddess statue outside. After that, they set a fire on furnace in the yard and incinerated the paper which contained of their request.

Some of them also did a "tjiam shi" ritual. They shook a tube which filled of bamboo sticks to know about their luck, health, mate, etc. Moreover, some of them also bought a lantern of happiness for IDR 500.000 from the officer. The lantern will be named with our (family) name and hung on the roof. This became a symbol to express gratitude and popular near the period of Lunar New Year.

Then, what else?

Bodhi and Buddha
After bewitched by the building, interior and activity around Pagoda Avalokitesvara, you can stroll around the yard and see sleeping Buddha statue, the location of the expectant 36 meters tall Buddha statue made in bronze, Taman Menjangan and.. bodhi tree, with gold Buddha statue under the tree. You know, bodhi tree is very rare in Indonesia, so it was interesting to know what kind of tree where Siddhartha Gautama got enlightenment until he became Buddha.

I was mesmerized when I saw the hefty trunk, heart-shaped leaves, and a number of small and round fruit in a twig. At that time, a various red ribbon contained of Chinese alphabet and people's hope plugged in branches. Perhaps, that was the rest of Lunar New Year commemoration.

Besides me, some hijabers woman took a selfie/ groufie happily. It made me smile because I realized the openness of Semarang society. However, I was intrigued by one question: do people nowadays only tend to mesmerized by the beauty of the building, not the difference of minority people? I hope it was not so.


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Inez Hapsari media & public relations enthusiast | children stories writer | jazz lover | I live to the fullest to be young and in love.