Southeast Asia's largest sitting Buddha opens in
AFP, September 9, 2001
Kota Bahru -- Southeast Asia's largest sitting Buddha was formally
inaugurated today in Islamic opposition-ruled state of Kelantan amid a debate over Islamic
Orange-robed monks chanted prayers and lit two giant
candles to inaugurate the 30-metre-high, 47-metre-wide statue of Buddha sitting
cross-legged in a meditation pose atop Wat Machimmaram temple in sleepy Tumpat town in the
The ceremony kicked off a week-long festival that
will culminate on Sept 16, when the brown Buddha with pure gold lips will have his giant,
tear-drop-shaped "heart" installed.
Hundreds of ethnic Chinese, who make up less than
five percent of Kelantan's 1.4 million people, burned joss sticks and stuck thin gold
foils on the Buddha's heart, which is being displayed on a makeshift stage.
They also inserted a pair of needles made of pure
silver and gold into the hollow of the heart, symbolising a release of their attachment to
worldly wealth and rejecting greed and hatred.
Some 100,000 worshippers from as far as Thailand,
Singapore and Sri Lanka, plus 500 Thai monks, are expected to turn up for the grand
installation ceremony by Thai deputy chief monk Somdel Praphut Thachan, said temple
The 10-storey-high Buddha, which took 10 years to
build and cost RM4 million, is surrounded by Chinese folklore statues, dragon-adorned
pillars and meticulous carvings.