Top: Celebrating Songkran at Dataran Pahlawan, Alor Setar today/ fotoBERNAMA
GEORGE TOWN — The sole Siamese senator in the Dewan Negara today panned a PAS Youth leader who portrayed Songkran, the Thai new year festival, as an event looked down by Muslims.
Aknan Ehtook said Songkran is a religious celebration held in the compound of a “wat” or temple or at a Siamese settlement where prayers are offered to Buddha as an appreciation for his teachings.
He said the festival should not be associated with so-called “Songkran parties” organised by unethical people for profit.
Aknan was referring to a statement by Batu Kawan PAS Youth information and preaching unit chief Nizar Ahmad Tajudin, who labelled a “Songkran party” at a mall a “pesta maksiat” (vice festival) which offended the Muslims as they were preparing for the fasting month.
Nizar said the event at Seberang Perai was against the norms and values of Malaysians at large and would “court divine wrath and disaster”.
He also referred to a poster on the event featuring scantily clad deejays.
Aknan, the president of Persatuan Siam Malaysia, told FMT the authorities must be careful when approving such events, which might affect relations among Malaysians.
He said that during Songkran, celebrated by the Siamese community in Malaysia yesterday, scented water with flower petals and fragrances is poured over Buddha’s image as a mark of appreciation for his teachings.
This is followed by the pouring of water on the hands of the chief monks, parents and elders as a sign of respect.
“We will, in return, be blessed by them,” he said.
Aknan said friends and relatives would have fun splashing water at each other to reinforce their friendship and kinship as a reunion since the last Songkran festival.
“Some travel across the peninsula to be back home to celebrate with their families and friends.
“The celebrations are usually held in the compound of the wat or in the Siamese settlements. As such, we would dress decently to respect the sanctity of the temple,” he said.
Aknan said events like the one held at the mall had nothing to do with the actual Songkran celebrated by the Siamese community.
He said the Batu Kawan PAS Youth should channel their grievances to the approving authority if they found such events disturbing.