PETALING JAYA – The Sultan of Selangor, Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah, has instructed the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) not to obstruct the Bon Odori festival which is scheduled to be held on July 16, reported Malay Mail.
This comes after Malaysians protested against remarks made by religious affairs minister Idris Ahmad, who claimed that the Bon Odori festival was “influenced by elements of other religions”.
‘See it for yourselves’
In a statement, JAIS said Sultan Sharafuddin sought an audience with Jais and Shah Alam City Council (MBSA) officers and urged them to attend Bon Odori and “see for themselves” what actually takes place at the festival.
Jais director Shahzihan Ahmad also added that the Sultan himself had attended the festival several years ago and failed to find anything deemed detrimental to the Islamic faith.
His Highness is of the view that many cultures have links with religion, but not necessarily is religion part of a culture.
His Highness also stressed that the act of worship is different from the act of observation.
ALEPS: ‘Bon Odori is only an exchange of cultures’
The Alumni Look East Policy Society (ALEPS), one of the organisers of the event, told NST that the Bon Odori festival held locally was introduced as a way to promote cultural exchanges between Malaysia and Japan.
This festival in Malaysia is held to promote cultural exchanges between Malaysia and Japan by enabling people to experience a variety of Japanese cuisine, art, games, costumes, and traditional dance, nothing more than that.
They were also joined by The Japan Club of Kuala Lumpur (JCKL), the Japanese School of Kuala Lumpur, and Malaysia’s Embassy of Japan, who released a joint press statement over the matter.
“The Bon Odori Festival, an annual Japanese cultural event that dates back as far as 1977, started as an effort to promote and strengthen friendship between Japan and Malaysia.
“Throughout the event, Malaysians are offered an opportunity to experience a variety of Japanese art, foods and drinks as well as dance if they choose to partake in the ring of Bon Odori dancers,” the statement read.