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Interfaith leaders attend vihara opening at North Sumatra resort

Apriadi Gunawan

The Jakarta Post

Karo, North Sumatra  /  Tue, December 25, 2018  /  10:56 am
Interfaith leaders attend vihara opening at North Sumatra resort

Three monks lead a thanksgiving ritual during the soft opening of Suwarnadwipa Tianzhu Chansi vihara at Taman Simalem Resort on Sunday, Dec. 23, in North Sumatra. (JP/Apriadi Gunawan)

Three Buddhist monks led a ritual on Sunday, Dec. 23, during the soft opening of Suwarnadwipa Tianzhu Chansi vihara, a new monastery located on the premises of Taman Simalem Resort in Merek subdistrict, Karo regency, North Sumatra.

Hundreds of Buddhists from the province attended the ritual, which expressed gratitude for the new vihara. The event included raising the statues of the three Buddhist goddesses Amitabha Buddha, Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva and Mahasthamarapta Bodhisattva.

The vihara's inauguration ceremony on Sunday included raising the statues of three Buddhist goddesses.The vihara's inauguration ceremony on Sunday included raising the statues of three Buddhist goddesses. (JP/Apriadi Gunawan)

The inauguration ceremony also distributed alms to orphans and closed with the Fang Sen (also Fang Sheng), the Buddhist practice of releasing captive animals and said to be a way to show appreciation for nature. The monks, interfaith leaders and TSR staff set free a flock of birds during the Fang Sen.

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Islamic leader Jamaludin Nasution said he was pleased to attend the event alongside other religious leaders. He appreciated the Taman Simalem Resort management for providing places of worship for different religions, as it was important for adherents to be able to observe their prayers while staying at the resort.

“All tourist locations should provide houses of worship,” Jamaludin told The Jakarta Post on the sidelines of the event.

Buddhist monks, interfaith leaders and Taman Simalem Resort staff release live birds during Fang Sen (Fang Sheng), which closed the inauguration ceremony of Suwarnadwipa Tianzhu Chansi vihara on Dec. 23 at the North Sumatra resort.Buddhist monks, interfaith leaders and Taman Simalem Resort staff release live birds during Fang Sen (Fang Sheng), which closed the inauguration ceremony of Suwarnadwipa Tianzhu Chansi vihara on Dec. 23 at the North Sumatra resort. (JP/Apriadi Gunawan)

Meanwhile, general manager Eddy Tanoto said that establishing places of worship had been part of the resort's plans since the beginning.

The resort now has two mosques, a church and the new vihara.

“They were built to symbolize interfaith harmony,” said Eddy.

The vihara is unique in that it is decorated with Chinese Buddhist ornaments. Firman, a Jakarta-based architect who co-designed the vihara, said almost 20 percent of the vihara's ornaments had come from China, so it bore some resemblance to viharas in that country. “We used the ornaments to attract travelers, so it can also function as a tourist destination,” he said. (wir/mut)

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