On Monday (June 6), Datuk Idris Ahmad, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs), had initially warned Muslims not to partake in the Bon Odori festival set to commence in Shah Alam next month.
In a statement, Idris clarified that a survey performed by the Malaysian Islamic Development Department found that the festival incorporates elements of other religious faiths and therefore could potentially ‘mislead’ or negatively influence Muslims.
However, Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Amirudin Shari has since countered the claim by saying that the festival has been held in the state for decades.
He also mentioned that the festival is domestically significant and vital as it seeks to enhance ties among organisations, individuals, and societies in Japan and Malaysia.
“We discovered that this input had surfaced a few days ago… there was no issue before this,” he said yesterday upon initiating the Selangor Public Health Advisory Council.
Amirudin also said that he had yet to obtain any explicit guidances or comments on the festival’s organisation, which he perceives as a commemoration of Japanese culture, rather than a religious matter.
However, after allegations that the festival contains religious elements surfaced, he added that he would definitely seek advice from state religious authorities.
Furthermore, moderation advocate Mohamed Tawfik Ismail indicated that Muslims do not necessarily have to implement the faith of other religious communities in order to benefit from exposure to other cultural contexts.
“Regrettably, politics, as exercised by supposedly religious parties, uses religion to enforce constricted perceptions that prevent Malays from strive to broader knowledge and exposure to the world.
“Historically, Malays have always been responsive to and enriched by foreign cultures.
“Narrow-minded politics stymies progressive advancement,” he explained, according to the Star.
The news site also mentioned that some netizens said that they would be attending the festival merely in appreciation for the culture and not to alter their faith.
Conclusively, since the Selangor state government does not oppose the concept of the ceremony, the Bon Odori Festival will be held at the Shah Alam Sports Complex on July 16, as planned, after a three-year hiatus following the global Covid-19 outbreak.
What do you think? Will you be attending?