Wesak Day Procession In Penang, Malaysia

Gautama Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and death all occurred on Wesak Day. As a result, Buddhists worldwide celebrate these three events on the same day in his honor. Although this day is known as Wesak in Malaysia. However, it is also called Vesak (Pali: Vesakha), Buddha Purnima, Buddha Day or informally the “Buddha’s birthday”.

Best Viewpoints for the Wesak Day Procession

In Penang Malaysia, Buddhist devotees gather annually outside the Malaysian Buddhist Association (MBA) in George Town. As a result, this year the Wesak Day Procession Penang involved about 15 floats bestowing Buddhist themes. Additionally, the procession started at 6PM outside the MBA on Jalan Burma, then it would proceed down the following streets:

Route of the Procession

  1. Jalan Pangkor
  2. Jalan Kelawai
  3. Lorong Burma
  4. back to Jalan Burma
  5. then veer right onto Jalan Perak
  6. Lebuhraya Peel
  7. Jalan Macalister
  8. Jalan Anson
  9. Jalan Burma

The entire journey would take about 5 hours and then come full circle back to the MBA at about 10PM.

It is possible to enjoy the parade from more than one vantage point. Therefore, you can watch the start of the procession at the MBA. Additionally, migrate over to the intersection of Jalan Burma and Jalan Perak. As a result, you can view the procession for a second time as it comes back around. Furthermore, the daylight is fading by then and some of the floats are more spectacular as the sun is going down.

Map of Best Viewpoints

Map of Best Viewpoints Wesak Day Procession
Procession Float
Wesak Day Float at Viewpoint #2

Diverse Procession Participants and Float Designs

Buddhist organizations from Pulau Penang and the mainland participate in the Wesak Day Procession with their own floats. As a result, many of the floats were extraordinary and also meticulously decorated with statues of the Buddha, water fountains and flowers. Additionally, their members followed alongside the floats handing out Buddhist flags, flowers and candy.

The floats had different themes and variations that all had the Buddha as their primary point of focus. Additionally, this was combined with other pertinent themes such as Chinese New Year. As a result, one of the most extravagant floats had Buddha sitting in meditation posture riding a giant red rooster.

This was one of the more elaborate float entries in the parade. As a result, the Penang Wesak Processions Committee said the rooster float took about 3 days to complete with the assistance of about 30 volunteers.

Buddhist and Chinese New Year Theme float
Buddha riding Red Rooster
2017 was the year of the Rooster in the Chinese zodiac. Therefore, this float depicts the Buddha riding on the Rooster.

Most Popular Procession Themes

Following behind the rooster float was a steady procession of unique floats that represented the different Malaysian Buddhist affiliations from Penang. However, most of them featured baby Buddha statues and other statues of the Buddha both reclining and seated. Additionally, the following float features the baby Buddha being bathed by a Naga under the close watch of a seated Buddha statue.

Bathing Baby Buddha Float
This Wesak Day Float features a baby Buddha in honor of the Buddha’s birthday.
Baby Buddha Wesak Day Procession
Wesak Day Buddha Float
Best Penang Buddha float Wesak Day
Singing Children
Singing Children Wesak Day Procession George Town

Best Wesak Day Procession Entry

The final float in the Wesak Day Penang Procession prominently featured Buddha and it was followed by hundreds or perhaps even thousands of devotees.

Best Float Wesak Day 2017
Penang Wesak Day Procession

Buddhist Flags for Wesak Day

Another very prominent feature of the Wesak Day Procession Penang was the Buddhist flags. However, the Buddhist flag was originally designed in 1885 in Colombo, Sri Lanka and it is a non sectarian flag. Additionally, the five colors of the flag are blue, red, yellow, white and orange.

The significance of these colors is that Buddhists believe they emanated from the body of the Buddha at the moment he achieved enlightenment. You can acquire a Buddhist flag from procession participants that give out the miniature flags to those in attendance.

Buddhist Flags for Wesak Day
Buddhist colors

Don’t Miss Wesak Day Procession in Penang

George Town, Penang is world famous for its multicultural festivals and diversity. Therefore, the Wesak Day Procession is a very significant part of the Penang festivals. Indeed, it serves as the apex of the Wesak Day celebrations in Penang which are dedicated to commemorating the life and achievements of Gautama Buddha.

Additionally, the tranquil atmosphere is in sharp contrast with the surging crowds and flying coconuts of Thaipusam and the gratuitous fireworks of Chinese New Year celebrations.

Helpful Resources:

  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vesakhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gautama_Buddha
  • http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2017/05/10/floral-floats-to-mark-colourful-wesak-day-procession/
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhist_flag