"Pay respect to Buddha, uphold the precepts sincerely."
Following the command, Loo Kor Heong, a Tzu Chi care recipient, bowed respectfully and reverently. Loo Kor Heong’s daughter, who is mentally impaired, tried her best to pray with her palms together with the help of her father.
With a small Buddha bathing altar set up in the house, the ceremony was simple yet significant. Loo Kor Heong was overwhelmed with gratitude, and she used the word "very" thrice to describe her feeling, "(I am) very happy. (It is) very rare to perform the Buddha Bathing ceremony at home. (I am) very grateful.”
In May 2022, the 56th Tzu Chi Anniversary and Buddha Day were celebrated in two different ways. Firstly, nearly 2,000 people visited Jing Si Hall to partake in the Buddha Bathing ceremony to rinse their inner troubles and fill their minds with joyous Dharma. Secondly, for care recipients and volunteers who were ill or with mobility problems, a mini Buddha Bathing ceremony was organised by the volunteers at their homes. By bringing the lucite Buddha statue to private homes, the volunteers hoped that more people could share the benevolence of Buddha and Dharma joy.
A Mother touched by the Presentation of Carnation by Daughter
On May 15, 2022, the actual date of Vesak Day, volunteers from the East District visited care recipient Loo Kor Heong to celebrate this joyous occasion.
During the Buddha Bathing ceremony, Loo Kor Heong's daughter started to feel discomfort from a bloated stomach. Thus, she became unruly and would slap her stomach to ease her discomfort. Both Loo Kor Heong and her husband would calm her patiently. But occasionally, she would watch the screen quietly and listen to the music of the Buddha bathing ritual.
It turned out that Loo Kor Heong had known Tzu Chi for many years. In the past, she would go to the temple to “bathe the Buddha” on Vesak Day. However, since her daughter became semi-paralysed three and half years ago, she had not been able to do so. Thus, Loo Kor Heong was moved and said: "(I am) very happy. (It is) very rare to perform the Buddha Bathing ceremony at home. (I am) very grateful.”
From prenatal tests up to delivery, the doctor had said that her daughter was healthy. When her daughter was two years old, she was admitted to the hospital due to severe diarrhoea. It was only during that admission that she was diagnosed as mentally retarded. This bad news came as a blow and shock to the family. Loo Kor Heong was shaken but eventually came to accept the reality.
Although the daughter cannot express herself verbally, both mother and daughter enjoy a very close relationship. Unfortunately, in 2019, the 29-year-old daughter was diagnosed with a brain tumour. After the operation, she suffered a stroke and was left semi-paralysed. It took her a year to recuperate.
Loo Kor Heong still feels an agonising pain whenever she recalls those dark days. She shared: "After the operation, the doctor told me that my daughter is semi-paralysed. It was truly heartbreaking and I was inconsolable for two weeks."
In the face of life’s impermanence and disappointment, Loo Kor Heong said judiciously: "She (daughter) is already very unfortunate. So, we as parents have to be stronger."
In 2021, impermanence descended on her family again. This time, it was the relapse of her daughter's brain tumour. But Loo Kor Heong had learned to change her mindset and was determined not to be dragged into another anguish. She faced the misfortune bravely and encouraged her daughter constantly, even teaching her to donate to the Bamboo coin bank.
Volunteer Loo Siew Yan has been with them for more than two years and admires Loo Kor Heong for her strength. Loo Siew Yan remembered that Loo Kor Heong once told her that taking care of her daughter was mentally stressful. Once Loo Kor Heong broke down and left the house for a few hours. Those words have been troubling Loo Siew Yan. She felt miserable and kept figuring ways to support Loo Kor Heong.
Subsequently, Loo Siew Yan began to share Jing Si Aphorisms with Loo Kor Heong, hoping to bring her positivity. After learning about the availability of the mobile mini Buddha Bathing ceremony, she suggested that to Loo Kor Heong and the latter agreed immediately and enthusiastically.
The Buddha Bathing ceremony is a celebration that comprises three different occasions; namely, Tzu Chi Day, Vesak Day and Mother's Day. Loo Siew Yan said: "I am very happy that their family can take part in the ceremony together. Loo Kor Heong had a wish which is to receive a carnation flower from her daughter but even a simple wish like this was almost impossible. So, I bought a carnation for her daughter to be presented to her.”
With the help of Loo Kor Heong’s husband, the daughter presented the carnation flower to her, which is Loo Kor Heong’s ever first. Looking at her smiling daughter, Loo Kor Heong beamed with gratification and was moved beyond words.
Bathing the Buddha brings Joy, Gratitude and the feeling of being Blessed
The mini Buddha Bathing ceremony was conducted one week after Vesak Day. On the morning of May 22, the volunteers arrived at the home of care recipient Tan Kim Kai. They were greeted genially by the Tan family. The warm-hearted exchanges and cheerful faces convey the loving-kindness between volunteers and care recipients.
The volunteers carefully placed the lucite Buddha statue on the altar, followed by fresh flowers and lotus lanterns. The simple and elegant decorations, coupled with the devout gestures of the volunteers, made the ceremony simple yet dignified.
With unwavering devoutness, the Tan family sincerely and faithfully “bathed the Buddha” and relished in the shower of Buddha’s benevolence. As he “bathed the Buddha”, Tan Kim Kai raised his hands which are stiff due to illness, to wipe away the tears from the corners of his eyes as he prayed for Buddha’s blessings and for his family to stay healthy and safe.
The Tan family has been participating in the Buddha Bathing ceremony for four years and they were very grateful for the volunteers' dedication. They repeatedly said "Thank you", "I'm sorry" and "Sorry to trouble you” to the volunteers. Tan Kim Kai’s daughter Tan Siew Hua said: "We seldom leave the house because it is inconvenient. So, we greatly appreciate the visits by Tzu Chi volunteers. Thank you for your help."
As the occasion fell on the Parents Month, the volunteers prepared carnations and tea to give Tan Siew Hua an opportunity to express her gratitude to her parents. When Tan Siew Hua served tea and flowers to her parents, Tan Kim Kai's eyes became wet again. It was a heart-warming scene that encapsulated the joy, affection and contentment of the family.
This thankful day is invaluable, and Tan Siew Hua is determined to do her best to accompany and provide for her parents. She said movingly: "Children should do our utmost to be filial to our parents."
Steadfast in Practising the Bodhisattva Way
Southern District volunteer Loh Yoke Peng had a surgery and was recuperating at home. On May 14, volunteers organised a mini Buddha Bathing ceremony at the home of Sim Sem Peng and Lee Hui Chuang to bring blessings from Buddha and Tzu Chi volunteers to Loh Yoke Peng and other Dharma family members.
The lucite Buddha statue was respectfully placed in the centre of the alter, just behind a bowl of water, flowers and fruits. The elegance and solemnity of the Buddha bathing altar soothed and calmed the attendees. Loh Yoke Peng said emotionally that because of her recuperation, it was not suitable for her to go to crowded places, "I really want to attend the Buddha Bathing ceremony and so Sister Teoh Ai Ping suggested that she could organise one at her home."
Unfortunately, Teoh Ai Ping was diagnosed with COVID-19 just before the occasion and had to be quarantined. This heavy responsibility then fell onto Sim Sem Peng and Lee Hui Chuang. Hospitable Lee Hui Chuang had been busy buying flowers for decorations and preparing cakes and desserts a day before the occasion.
On the day of the ceremony, the leader of the Mutual Love team personally escorted elderly people with mobility difficulties to the venue, hoping that the solemn atmosphere of the ceremony could touch everyone and express the strong and close fellowship of the Tzu Chi Dharma family.
At ten o'clock in the morning, 16 volunteers lined up neatly and followed the process of Buddha Bathing ritual. The attendees sang the Verses of Praise to the Buddha, took refuge in Buddha, vowed to uphold the precepts and sang "Our Earnest Prayer" resoundingly, praying for the world to be free from disasters.
"I did not expect to see so many people participating in the Buddha Bathing ceremony, it is very dignified." Loh Yoke Peng's wish was fulfilled. She was grateful for the selfless dedication of the Dharma family and pledged to follow the Bodhisattva way tenaciously.
Shie Chen Tu and Hsieh Lin Mei Jen had attended the Buddha Bathing ceremony at the Jing Si Hall a week ago on May 8. But they still attended the ceremony to accompany the volunteers and contribute to the sacrament of the event.
Shie Chen Tu said that when the humming of the Verses of Praise to the Buddha was sounded, he could feel the greatness and compassion of Buddha. The feeling was the same as that in the Jing Si Hall the previous week. Regardless of the number of participants, as long as we are sincere, our veneration to Buddha would remain timeless."
Sim Chun Hoi, who is nearly 80 years old, cherished the opportunity to be able to participate in the Buddha Bathing ceremony. She said that she has not fully recovered from a recent fall so it would be tiring to have to go to Jing Si Hall for this ceremony. “Luckily, we can sincerely perform the Buddha-bathing ritual with this opportunity”.
Although the mini Buddha Bathing ceremony is simple and with lesser participants, the resonance of the prayer is no less powerful and the prayers can still reach the Buddhas. Together, everyone prayed for the purification of the mind and peace and safety for everyone.