Sabtu, 17 Disember 2011


It was way back 1956, at a time when then Malaya was on the verge of gaining independence that the idea of building a sizeble Buddhist Temple close to the federal capital of Kuala Lumpur was first conceived. The Temple was also to reflect the status of Buddhism as one of the major religions in the country, and also serve as a symbol of the long standing close relationship that existed between Thailand and Malaya.
It was Phra Kru Palat Vieng, a veteran member of the Sangha (community of monks) and an old time resident of Kuala Lumpur who initiated the move. His noble initiative was given wholehearted support by His Excellency Nai Sunthorn Hongladarom, the then Ambassador of Thailand to Malaya, the Venerable Phra Dhamakosacharn (Chop Anucari) and a group of dedicated prominent local Buddhists such as Senator Dato' T.H. Tan, Mr & Mrs Goh Chin Keat, Mr Lim Pek Nooi, Mr Ho Kean Tit adn Mr Yap Ten Chai. The proposal 'to build a Buddhist temple' was submitted to the Selangor State Government in 1957, which responded by allocating two acres of land in Petaling Jaya in January 1958 for the purpose.
Subsequently, an adjacent piece of land measuring two and half acres was acquired through donations collected from well-wishers and Phra Kru Palad Vieng's own savings ('nava kama', monetary donations received for things allowable for the monastics). 
The initiative to build a temple had attracted generous donations from well-wishers as far back as in 1956 when the idea was first mooted. His Majesty King Bhumiphol Adulyadej of Thailand's personal contribution towards the building funds had generated greater enthusiasm amongst those who aspired for the successful completion of the Temple. The Government of Malaya also rallied to the good cause by giving a grant of RM100,000 through the Prime Minister, Yang Berhormat Mulia Tengku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj. Another sum of RM45,000 was also donated through Senator Dato' T.H. Tan.
In Thailand, a committee chaired by H.E. Phya Manavarajsevi was set up to raise funds for the project. His appeal met with resounding response from the people of Thailand who came forward with their contributions both in cash and in kind.
As the planned structure was to reflect the finest of Thai Temple architecture, the Fine Arts Department of Thailand in Bangkok was commissioned to draw up the architectural plans and to oversee the construction of the Temple building.
With a combined workforce of local builders and skilled craftsmen from Thailand, the main shrine hall or Vihara (Viharn) was finally completed in 1962. The structure, heavily gilded in gold leaves, intricately decorated with multi-coloured glass tiles, and crowned with a multi tiered roof trimmed with chor fahs*, represented the most stunning Thai temple architecture in the Klang Valley.

The crowing event was the ceremony to raise the main ‘Chor Fa’ officiated by His Majesty King Bhumiphol Adulyadej on 26th June 1962. His Majesty was accompanied by Her Majesty Queen Sirikit at the gliterring ceremony. During the event, the temple was officially named ‘Wat Chetawan’ or Jetavana Monastery. His Majesty had also granted Royal Consent for His Majesty’s Royal Insignia to be mounted on the front gable of the building, a rare honour that reflected His Majesty’s special consideration and compassion towards Wat Chetawan.

To mark this auspicious occasion, Their Majesties had decreed a special directive for the casting of a special Buddha image named Phra Buddha Thammeen, which arrived complete with a gilded and finely crafted throne several months ahead of the official opening. This image which represent an excellent piece of Thai Buddhist sculpture, now sits in the main shrine hall. The Buddha image which was originally sculptured for the Main Shrine Hall was relocated to the Meditation Hall.

*’Chor Fa’ literally means a bunch of sky-tassel. Shaped like a stylized head of the mythical Garuda, it forms the two pinnacles on all three levels of the temple roof. In the raising of the ‘Chor Fa’, the upper most ‘Chor Fa’ at the front end of the building takes prminance.

1963 marks the upgrading of the Vihara to an Uposathagara (Ubosot in Thai) or Sima Hall, making it the most important building in the temple complex. Consecrated throught an act of the Sangha, its boundaries are demarcated by placing eight sizable spherical markers (nimitta) underground, while stone pillars/markers (Bai Sima) on ground level mark their precise location underneath. It is only within this hallowed area that the Sangha are allowed to conduct ordination procedure, recite the Patimokkha, conduct the Kathina ceremony and other official Sangha matters.

Even as the main shrine hall was being constructed, the Sunday School, an idea conceived by the Buddhist Missionary Society was already operational. Acting on their initiative and with the full support of Wat Chetawan Management Committee, the Sunday School which started with just 5 students in June 1961, swelled to over 100 students a year later. With the late Chief High Priest of Malaysia and Singapore, Ven. Dr. K. Sri Dhammananda as the founding principal, the school was staffed by English speaking monks from both the Thai as well as the Sri Lankan tradition.
During the period of 1978-1980, Wat Chetawan came into the limelight as a center of Buddhist studies when several national level Dhamma camps under the auspices of the Young Buddhist Association of Malaysia (YBAM) were held on its premises.

The years after 1962 were years of conservation. No new structures were added until almost 20 years later under the abbotship of Ven. Phra Khru Sophitchariyaphorn (Pien Saccadhammo). Today, Wat Chetawan, being one of the few royal sponsored temples outside Thailand, stands complete as a temple complex with the distinctive structures such as The Ubosot, The Dhammasala (Meditation Hall), The Bell Tower, The Monks’ Kuti, The Sala, The Mondop, The Brahma Pavilion, The Kuan Yin Pavilion, The Columbarium, the new upcoming Maitreya Buddha Pagoda and Temple Monument Sign.

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Walaupun saya sebagai rakyat malaysia yang berketurunan siam malaysia,saya tetap bangga saya adalah thai malaysia.Pada setiap tahun saya akan sambut perayaan di thailand iaitu hari kebesaraan raja thai serta saya memasang bendera kebangsaan gajah putih.