Cave temples, Kuan Yins & turtles in Malaysia
Malaysia is a is multi-ethnic and multi-cultural country. Roughly 61% of the population practices Islam, 20% practices Buddhism, 9% Christianity and 7% Hinduism.
While Islam is declared the state religion, the Malaysian government says to guarantee freedom of religion – and hopefully they will keep saying that as in several countries -such as Indonesia– other religions than Islam are suppressed and the people that practice Buddhism and Christianity unfortunately have to hide.
Malaysia is one of the richest countries in Asia, because of its natural resources.
Limestone Cave temples
The search for Buddhism in Malaysia brought me in particular to Malacca and Ipoh. In the small city of Malacca (Malay: Melaka) one can find many old Buddhist temples while the area of ipoh is famous for its many spectacular Buddhist cave temples, set in limestone mountains.
Here a few entrances to different Chinese Buddhist Cave temples around Ipoh, where you can find the most beautiful paintings on the limestone rocks.
Guanyin (also written Kwanyin, Kuanyin, Quanyin or Guanshiyin) is a female Bodhisattva and one of the most popular deities in Chinese Buddhism and Taoism, but she is also revered in Japan and Korea.
Guanyin can be seen as the Chinese interpretation of the Tibetan Avalokiteshvara (Tib. Chenrezig) and is also sometimes compared to Green Tara, for her motherly and swift actions.
Offering gods and goddesses
Inside another limestone cave temple near Ipoh you can find these offering gods and goddesses, beautifully painted on the rocks, flying in the sky, looking down upon the visitors of the temple.
A few pictures of one the oldest Chinese Buddhist temples in Melaka, Malaysia.
The high wooden entrance doors are wonderfully decorated with golden dragons and people offer batches of incense.
Burmese Buddhist Temples
Not only Chinese Buddhist Temples can be found in Malaysia. The left picture above shows a lovely painting on the door of a Birmese (Myanmarese) Buddhist Temple on the Island of Penang.
Private Music performance
In another Birmese temple in Malacca (Melaka) I came in touch with the 2 lovely nuns (an old and a young nun) that run the place. Unable to communicate together in languages we used our hands and smiles to talk to each other.
When I offered them some of my thangka cards they asked her to come to their living quarters at the top of the temple, where the elder nun urged me to sit down and urged the young nun to to show her musical skills to me. She played several traditional musical instruments and
ended the private show with the Pink Panther Tune on the piano!
Korean Buddhist temple
I came across a Korean Buddhist temple as well, not far from Ipoh. Set in between palm trees it contains beautiful lotus ponds. Inside the tiles on the temple floor are decorated with lotus flowers.
Turtles are seen in Chinese Buddhism als animals that bring luck, so you can find many temples have lotus ponds with turtles swimming in them. On the right a porcelain Guanyin statue in a temple parc.
Just outside the main city of Kuala Lumpur I taught thangka classes at the Losang Dragpa Centre. This is a Tibetan Buddhist centre, part of the FPMT (Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition) that has many centres around the world where I regularly offer my
Tibetan Art classes as this is the tradition I’m coming from.
Losang Dragpa Centre
The Losang Dragpa Centre is a beautifully decorated and colorful centre and has a great group of people (both young and old) that enjoyed the thangka classes.