Christian faithful find silver lining in movement restriction order

KUALA LUMPUR: René Joseph Pereira, 75, had dreamed of attending Vatican City’s Easter service in Saint Peter’s Basilica as far back as he can remember.A ticket to Rome, Italy, was pricey even in his youth, but Pereira was determined that one day he would be there, among the thousands of faithful witnessing ancient rituals, traditions and papal appearances throughout the Holy Week.Filial responsibilities, however, got in the way for the retired engineer.There were parents to care for, schooling children to be managed, and later on, other family-related tasks occupied much of his adult life.Pereira could not manage to catch the live stream of Easter Services from Vatican City in recent years due to the time difference and other obligations.This year, however, the Movement Control Order (MCO) has proven to be a blessing in disguise for him. René Joseph PereiraHe caught the live stream of the Holy Week’s events from Palm Sunday, and would be watching the Easter Service and Pope Francis’ address and apostolic blessings from the comfort of his living room.“We will have front-row seats to a service that we would have had to queue for days to get in. It would be like we are right there while Pope Francis is in our living room with us,” he added.Council of Churches of Malaysia general secretary Reverend Dr Hermen Shastri said most churches, irrespective of their denominations, had put in place live-streaming options for prayers and sermons on multiple social media platforms.“Christians in Malaysia understand the situation and are abiding by the MCO’s rules,” he said.He conveyed church heads’ Easter wishes and blessing to the 2.5 million Christians in the country.“Our prayers will be for the safety of doctors and health workers on the frontline, the vulnerable communities and blessings for Malaysians to cooperate with the authorities to keep the people safe.”Meanwhile, Sikh Naujawan Sabha Malaysia president Jasbir Singh said numerous prayer sessions, including the ritual 72-hour non-stop reading of the Sikh holy book, the Sri Guru Granth Sahib and kirtan or devotional singing would be live streamed in the run-up to Vaisakhi tomorrow.Vaisakhi, which usually falls on April 13 or 14, commemorates the formation of Khalsa panth of warriors under the Sikhs’ 10th guru, Guru Gobind Singh in 1699.The readings from the holy book, which are communally observed by Sikhs, would be done by priests, caretakers or religious leaders alternately, coming from gurdwaras in Jalan Raja Alang in Kuala Lumpur, Petaling Jaya and Ampang.He said that several of the gurdwaras’ kitchens were partially open to cater for migrants and refugees who had lost their jobs and income due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the MCO.Sikhs are also sending food from the Sentul Gurdwara to the Masjid India community, which have been placed under stringent curbs under the Enhanced Movement Control Order.Jasbir said this year’s Vaisakhi was a crucial time reflect on the teachings of the 10 Sikh Gurus. Reverend Dr Hermen Shastri “We have to think not as Sikhs, but how mankind can come together as only then will this celebration have meaning.“The universe is telling us to come together and reflect. In some parts of India, Mount Everest, which has been covered by smog for decades, is visible again. This is a sickness we can rise from.”Malaysia Hindu Sangam president Datuk R.S. Mohan Shan said he had made requests to major temples, such as the Korttu Malai Pillayar in Pudu and the Sri Ramalingeshwarar and Sri Kandaswamy temples of Bangsar and Brickfields, to live-stream prayers on the Tamil New Year, which falls on Tuesday. “Even though Hinduism mandates certain rituals, especially those related to funerals and the 16-day memorial prayers that are carried out by family members and next of kin, most Hindus have toed the line.“Some have deferred plans to scatter ashes (of cremated loved ones) and so on.”Mohan, however, urged Hindus, those observing the Tamil New Year, as well as Malayalees observing Vishu (Spring Festival) on the same day to try their best to avoid doing last-minute shopping for prayer items in grocery or convenience stores, and instead, buy their necessities online instead.

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