Tuesday August 21, 2012
Memorial website a blessing
By CHRISTINA CHIN
GEORGE TOWN: Prayers and offerings for the dearly departed have gone virtual with the creation of a memorial website, BuddhistSpace.com.
Its creator Alwin Aw said the website was founded in 2008 to give overseas Malaysians a chance to practise filial piety, pay respects to the dead and remember the deceased during festivals such as the Hungry Ghost Festival and Qing Ming.
“When I was studying in Australia, I wanted to be part of the religious and cultural ceremonies conducted by my family in Malaysia. So, I came up with BuddhistSpace.com.
“It’s a way to keep tradition and culture alive and the dearly departed close to your heart,” he said.
The free website, which has some 30 members, was also an alternative to expensive traditional ancestral tablets, said Aw, who is from the Malaysian Buddhist Cooperative Society.
The virtual memorial site lets users upload information such as death anniversary announcements, family trees and videos.
Visitors to the website can also share their prayers, express condolences and offer merits to the departed with a click of the mouse.
Aw said that during the Hungry Ghost Festival, also known as the Ullambana or Yu Lan Pen Festival, the gates of Hell were flung open for the ghosts to be released for a month-long “vacation”.
To pacify them, food, incense, paper money, opera, puppet shows and even pop concerts are presented as offerings.
Ullambana in Sanskrit, said Aw, meant “deliverance from suffering”, which referred to the salvation of anguished souls in hell and wondering spirits.
“This year, the society will celebrate Ullambana Festival on Saturday, with the Amitabha Jang Chok Puja to be conducted by Tibetan Lamas.
“This puja is a Tantric ritual to purify all the deceased’s souls, transfer merits (from devotees) to them and liberate them from suffering.
“Those living abroad or who are unable to attend the puja can create an online memorial and log on to the site to offer virtual candles, flowers and merits.
“The names of the deceased will be read out during the puja so that these souls can benefit from the prayers,” he said.
Plans were also under way for the annual puja ceremony to be streamed live next year, added Aw.
The month-long festival, which started on Friday, will end on Sept 15. The puja will be held at No 15, Jalan SS3/6, Petaling Jaya.