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Neighbours Get an Invitation to Bathe the Buddha

On the 19, 25 and 26 April 2015, the Tzu Chi medical home care team organized three separate small-scale Buddha Bathing Ceremonies and 19 beneficiary families benefitted from the blessings. The heartwarming and lively atmosphere even attracted the attention of the neighbours who took the opportunity to join in the simple but dignified ceremony.

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Lai Mei Fan (first from right), a Tzu Chi community volunteer leader, guides her mother in the three actions of paying homage to the Buddha, receiving flowers, and finally, receiving blessings. (Photo by Feng Gui Qiong)

The Tzu Chi medical home care team who had been busily taking care of their beneficiaries over the past year, had forsaken their usual medical kits for magnolia flowers and a crystal Buddha statue. May is the month of gratitude, and the medical team was on hand to facilitate the showering of blessings for 19 elderly beneficiaries who were confined to their beds by illness.

The year 2015 saw the start of the mobile, small-scale Buddha Bathing Ceremonies organized by the medical team; they had meticulously planned for three such events, run on a manpower of 28 medical and other Tzu Chi volunteers. On 26 April 2015, the third Buddha Bathing Ceremony was held at the Tzu Chi Free Clinic situated at Redhill. At 8am that morning, TIMA nurse Lim Kim Yan, five members from the medical team and six other volunteers set off for the homes of five elderly beneficiaries.

Care from One’s Dharma Family

Eighty-eight-year-old Grandma Huang from the Kim Tian estate, was all groomed for the day and waited in her wheelchair together with other family members and her daughter Lai Mei Fan, who was garbed in the Tzu Chi commissioner’s uniform.

“In the past when my mother was still able to walk, we would bring her to the annual Tzu Chi Anniversary cum World Peace Interfaith Prayer Ceremony so she could take part in the Buddha Bathing Ceremony. (Only) when she became wheelchair-bound and it was inconvenient to go out did she stop taking part.” Lai is grateful that the medical home care team had given her mother the chance to bathe the Buddha again, right in the confines of her own home.

Lai and her younger sister Shu Ying often talked with and hugged their mother, and their body language expressed how much they loved their mother. Lai’s niece had also specially turned up to participate in the activity, and the family’s three foreign domestic helpers too, joined in with their prayers. Seeing the Tzu Chi volunteers whom she had not met up with for a long time, Grandma Huang felt very happy.

“Taking care of one’s parents is the duty of every son and daughter. Therefore when my mother is not able to take care of herself anymore, I naturally wish to stay by her side and take care of her.” Lai hopes that her mother can remain at ease and live happily during her golden years every single day. Lai is also grateful for the understanding of her husband and children, which has allowed her mother to live under the same roof with her. The medical home care team makes monthly visits to measure the blood pressure and blood sugar level of Grandma Huang, supplies her with medication and check her for bedsores.

Neighbours Join in a Joyful Event

“Pay homage to Buddha......take the flowers in hand......and blessings to you!” At the end of the ceremony, 88-year-old Grandma Lee, who was bedbound, held the magnolia flower playfully above her lips and this action tickled everyone present.

“When my mom is familiar with you, she can be really lovable and playful!” Her son, Huang Long Fei said. Though bedridden, Grandma Lee tries to find happiness despite her suffering. That day, she was especially happy as her house was enlivened with the presence of 11 medical home care team members.

“I’ll keep the flowers in the fridge, and tomorrow I’ll put them in the water for cleaning your face!” Huang told his mother after noticing how much she liked its fragrance as she kept sniffing at it.

The bustling activity in the house had attracted the attention of a neighbour, Liu You Qiang, who peeped in with great curiosity. Volunteers took the opportunity to invite him to partake in bathing the Buddha, while Huang went out to invite others from adjoining units.

Initially the neighbours rejected the offer shyly, but the warm exhortations of Huang and the volunteers finally won them over. Volunteer Luo Cui Lan took pains to explain the meaning of the ceremony and the sequence of its procedures in Cantonese. Subsequently, the four elderly neighbours could even remind each other of the right way to fold their palms in prayer.

“Every day, all kinds of thoughts run wild in my mind but today after I have bathed the Buddha, I feel very calm and at ease,” said Liu. The neighbours often render help to each other; sometimes when Huang has a matter to attend to, the neighbours would help him take care of his mother. During the prayer session, everyone clutched their lotus lamps in hand and Grandma Huang too, held both the carnations given by her son and her lotus lamp high in a display of her sincerity.

Where originally there was only to be Grandma Huang and her son participating in this small-scale ceremony, unexpectedly the neighbours too, joined in. This sudden turn of events brought much warmth to the hearts of the medical team. Through the harmony and neighbourliness, they saw with their own eyes, the goodness in the world.

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Eldest daughter Lai Mei Xi (in white) and her sister Lai Mei Fan present carnations to their mother. (Photo by Feng Gui Qiong)

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TIMA members Lisa Chang (first from left) and Lim Kim Yan (second from left) share the wisdom of Jing Si Aphorisms with Grandma Huang. (Photo by Feng Gui Qiong)

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Huang Long Fei (left) present carnations to his mother and kisses her in gratitude for bringing him up. (Photo by Feng Gui Qiong)

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Volunteer Luo Cui Lan (right) speaks in Cantonese as she carefully explains the meaning behind the Buddha Bathing Ceremony and its sequence of procedures to the four elderly neighbours. (Photo by Feng Gui Qiong)

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Grandma Lee loved the smell of magnolia flowers and everyone was tickled at how she would playfully hold the flower above her lip. (Photo by Feng Gui Qiong)

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