Nirvana Memorial Park (Ipoh) Series 6
The Beauty of Avalokitesvara
The great compassionate Thousand-armed Avalokitesvara
The Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara is also known as Guanyin or the Goddess of Mercy. Her name has the meaning “the one who perceives the cries of the world” and she has infinite wisdom and miraculous powers. It is said that if any being in distress chants her name, the Bodhisattva will hear and come to assist, dispelling all disasters and bestowing blessings. The classic, “Journey to the West” by Wu Cheng’en depicted Avalokitesvara as a Bodhisattva with boundless wisdom, and her image has become deeply popular with the people ever since.
The thousand-armed Avalokitesvara is the most well-known manifestation of the Six Manifestations of Avalokitesvara – one form for each of the Six Realms of Reincarnation in Buddhism. According to Buddhist scriptures, “thousand” implies, “immeasurable and perfection”. The Bodhisattva protects all sentient beings with “thousand arms” which represents the immeasurable vastness of the Bodhisattva’s great compassion of the Bodhisattva; and “thousand eyes” to observe the world, which represents the perfection of wisdom.
Exquisitely lifelike craftsmanship
At the front of Tang Villa columbarium is the Golden Temple. Within the temple stands a 10 feet high lifelike white Thousand-armed Avalokitesvara – beautiful in form and exquisitely crafted – set in a solemn and tranquil atmosphere. Gazing down from the main doorway, the expression of the Thousand-armed Avalokitesvara appears compassionate. Looking upon the smiling Goddess of Mercy and with palms together in a gesture of reverence, offer a prayer of peace and safety for your family.
The sacred image of the Thousand-armed Avalokitesvara before us is dignified, peaceful and serene in form, appearance and posture. Look closely and you will see an icon of Amitabha Buddha enshrined upon the crown of Avalokitesvara, symbolizing the latter’s role as Amitabha’s emanation and principal attendant.
Great compassion and immeasurable merit
It is said when the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara witnessed the suffering of the world, she vowed to work unceasingly until all sentient beings are freed from the cycle of suffering. After countless attempts to achieve this, Avalokitesvara realized more beings needed saving. Struggling to comprehend the needs of so many, her head shattered into eleven pieces. Amitabha, seeing her plight, transformed each piece into eleven heads with which to hear the cries of the suffering. Upon hearing these cries and comprehending them, Avalokitesvara tried to reach out to all those who needed aid but found her arms had shattered into pieces. Once more, Amitabha comes to her aid and bestowed upon her a thousand arms to help the multitudes. In appreciation of Amitabha’s assistance, Avalokitesvara places the Buddha’s image on her head as a reminder of constant refinement and gratitude to Amitabha.
The multiple arms extend from both sides of the Bodhisattva, representing omnipotence. The top most arms bear the sun and moon respectively, symbolizing illumination upon the universe, blessings to all sentient beings and eternal protection. The lotus throne along with the Bodhisattva’s body rising above the murk symbolizes purity from defilements – showing that the sacred realm is free from the troubles and constraints of the three realms. The base of the lotus throne has a regular and unique design of water ripples, lending the Bodhisattva a gentle and compassionate air.
The spectacular and solemn Ascension Ceremony
The top of the Thousand-armed Avalokitesvara statue is decorated with mandara blossoms – the flower of spiritual purity in Buddhism – which projects light from above. The effect is as if the Thousand-armed Avalokitesvara is bathed in light with hollowed sutras conjuring infinite power and blessings by the Bodhisattva in transcending all sentient beings.
In addition, Nirvana Memorial Park (Ipoh) sincerely introduces the Ascension Ceremony – a humanized presentation for the people of Ipoh. The spectacular and solemn Ascension Ceremony is a “final farewell ceremony” for the departed from which the departed is guided to the Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss by blessings of light emanating from the Thousand-armed Avalokitesvara – allowing the departed to rest in peace and the living can rest at ease.
Malaysia is a multi-racial country, with the main ethnic groups being Malay, Chinese and Indian. For the ethnic Chinese, there are various religious funeral rites such as Buddhist, Taoist and Christian, and Islamic and Hindu rites for the other ethnic groups. Different ethnic groups and religions have different cultural practices, religious ideologies, beliefs and values, making Malaysia’s funeral culture appear diverse in many ways.
The ancestral tablet is also called “soul tablet”, “spirit tablet”, “soul seat” and others. In Buddhism, it is called “lotus dais” or “lotus seat”. It is generally used as a temporary seat for the soul of the departed to reside, and convenience for the family members, relatives and friends to pay their respects.
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