Selangor Journal
The Bon Odori Festival has been held in Malaysia since 1977, and usually takes place at the National Sports Complex Panasonic in Shah Alam, in the month of June. — Picture by THE JAPAN CLUB OF KUALA LUMPUR

Bon Odori, a cultural festival that fosters goodwill between Malaysians and Japanese community — Selangor Sultan

SHAH ALAM, June 9 — The Sultan of Selangor Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah Alhaj views the Bon Odori festival, celebrated in Malaysia for decades, as a cultural event that fosters goodwill between Malaysians and the Japanese community working and residing in this multiracial country.

The Sultan said any form of culture practised by each community in this world, is indeed linked to religion but with the passage of time, these cultural practices no longer highlight religious elements.

“The Bon Odori celebration in Malaysia is more a cultural festival that showcases Japanese traditions, mainly their folk dance, the beating of the drums, lanterns, traditional costumes and food, and other products.

“It is also promoted as a special day to bring family members together and friends who have not met in a long time,” said His Royal Highness in a Facebook post on the Selangor Royal Office page.

Sultan Sharafuddin said the Bon Odori festival became popular in Malaysia when many Japanese companies invested and opened up manufacturing plants in Selangor, and serves as a platform to introduce this form of Japanese tradition.

His Royal Highness said he himself had attended the festival in 2016, accompanied by the then-Japanese ambassador to Malaysia and based on his observation, it was not a religious event or ritual which could deviate from the religious belief of the Muslim attendees.

However, Sultan Sharafuddin decreed that the Selangor Religious Department and representative of the Shah Alam City Council (MBSA) attend the festival in order to properly understand and ensure it would not affect the religious faith of Muslims.

This is because His Royal Highness does not want certain parties, especially politicians, to use issues that touch on religious sensitivities to serve their own personal agenda and merely to gain popularity.

Sultan Sharafuddin also urged them not to simply label anything negatively without studying it first, saying they needed to be fair in making any public statement that could affect harmony in the community.

His Royal Highness also suggested that Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs) Datuk Idris Ahmad attend the Bon Odori Festival on July 16 at the National Sports Complex in Shah Alam (Panasonic) to understand the differences between a religious event and a cultural event.

Sultan Sharafuddin also does not want the minister to use the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) platform to make confusing and inaccurate statements which could tarnish its image and reputation.

— Bernama

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