A Month After Controversy Bon Odori Shines Without A Hitch


 
Estimates suggest up to 35,000 visitors attended the Bon Odori Festival in Shah Alam today.SHAH ALAM: Some 35,000 visitors thronged the Japanese Bon Odori festival here this evening, a month after it came under scrutiny, following a minister’s advice for Muslims to avoid it.
Lines of visitors, some garbed in traditional Japanese outfits, were seen building up outside the sports complex even before the gates were opened at 4.30pm.
The first dance performance began at 7.15pm, followed by numerous performances taking place throughout the evening, some of which saw the crowd taking part.
In his speech, Japanese ambassador, Takahashi Katsuhiko, touched on the history of the annual festival, which is making a return after a two-year hiatus because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Malaysians from all walks of life take part in some of the dances held at the Bon Odori festival.Bon Odori, he said, helped foster diplomatic and cultural ties between Malaysia and Japan.
“Japan highly appreciates Malaysia’s cultural diversity and tolerance. The diversity and tolerance have been an engine to promote bilateral relations in all its aspects including this Bon Odori Festival,” he said.
The festival’s organising committee chairman, Dai Hoshiai, told reporters that Bon Odori is solely a cultural event.  He said 50,000 visitors had celebrated the festival this evening, an increase of 15,000 from when it was last held.
A woman in a kimono takes part in a dance held at the Bon Odori festival.The brouhaha over Bon Odori was sparked after religious affairs minister Idris Ahmad reminded Muslims not to take part in the annual summer festival, claiming that the celebration was “influenced by elements of other religions”.
His advice drew brickbats from many, including former diplomats. He said his remarks were based on research conducted by Jakim, the Islamic development department.
However, the Sultan of Selangor, Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah, instructed the Selangor Islamic religious department (Jais) to allow the festival to proceed and also instructed officials of Jais and the Shah Alam City Council to attend Bon Odori to “see for themselves” what takes place at the festival. - FMT


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