TUMPAT - The Buddhist temple in Kampung Terbak is the centre of life of the villagers of Thai descent and when donations poured in to help them to repair the temple, they got together to stage a carnival of thanks in their unique way.
For over three days last month, the donors were invited to the "restored" Wat Cheng Buddhavas grounds for the fair known as "pesta pitis" in the Kelantanese lingo.
Chairman for the Thai community in Kelantan, Eh Chot Cha Chan, said the donors were invited to attend the carnival where they were treated to various Siamese traditional honours and customs.
The guests were also entertained with cultural shows performed by the Thai villagers themselves.
"However, some of them declined the invitation, preferring to stay out of the limelight and remain anonymous. We respect their wish as they have their own reasons for doing that," said Eh Chot.
Eh Chot said apart from expressing their gratitude to the fund-raisers and donors, the pesta was staged to attract more contributions from the public.
It also brought extra incomes to the villagers as it allowed them to temporarily set up business at the temple grounds, selling snacks, drinks and clothings to foreign tourists and locals alike.
The carnival-like atmosphere was so evident that during the three-day period, the whole village appeared deserted with almost all of its dwellers converging at the temple grounds.
The highlight of the pesta was a float procession where each of the participating vehicles carried a "pokok pitis" or "money tree".
The leaves and flowers of these money trees were actually made from the currency notes and coins collected in the temple's donation drive.
Eh Chot said if more funds were collected, then more of such trees would be made and hence, more vehicles would be used in the procession.
Behind the float procession, the Thai villagers moved in cohesion, taking turns to dance gracefully to the tunes of "ramvong", accompanied by the rhythmic beat of the rebana and Thai traditional drums, ala Loy Krathong.
At night, the Thai "wayang kulit" or shadow play was staged for the entertainment of the villagers.
A son of Kampung Terbak, Eh Chan a/l Tom, said he felt obliged to provide some cash assistance for the upkeep of the temple, which had been ravaged by time and other elements.
Eh Chan, a businessman in Terengganu, said it was a way of showing his appreciation to the villagers of Kampung Terbak for praying for his business success.
At the closing of the carnival, RM40,000, the amount collected by villagers, was officially handed over to the Abbot of Wat Cheng Buddhavas, Phra Kru Visut Thammarat.
Thammarat, who has been the temple's abbot for close to a decade, hoped the carnival would be continued in the future as it was among the few occasions where the Kelantan Siamese community really got together and celebrate a pesta like the "Loy Krathong" festival. - Bernama
Sumber: Utusan Malaysia; Features; 10/09/2003