PAS tells Muslims to stay away from Bon Odori

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PAS says it will continue to call on Muslims to stay away from the Bon Odori Festival due to concerns of “religious elements” at the Japanese cultural event.

Zhafaran Nasib/The Star

This came after Selangor’s Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah had ordered the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) not to forbid Muslims from attending the festival.

Both the PAS Ulama Council and its women’s wing issued statements late on Thursday (June 9) to urge Muslims not to participate in the Bon Odori festival.

“The PAS Ulama Council is urging Muslims not to attend the Bon Odori Festival because of the religious elements in the event.

“Although there are views that say the festival is only related to Japanese culture, it does not in any way dismiss concerns that the event still contains elements of Buddhist religious rituals.

“This is in line with statements issued by the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs), muftis and religious experts. Their positions are based on public interest so that people do not fall into traps that could lead to a violation of aqidah (faith).

“The reasoning that this is a Japanese cultural event is not merit enough for it to be considered together,” said PAS Ulama chief Datuk Ahmad Yahya in a statement.

Ahmad said others should emulate the Kelantan government’s decision not to list the Bon Odori dance as a cultural performance event in the Kelantan-Japan Cultural Festival 2022 after identifying that it has religious elements that can “damage faith”.

Similarly, the PAS women’s wing advised Muslims to stay away from the Bon Odori festival as a move to “protect their aqidah”.

“The PAS women’s wing is reminding Muslims in Malaysia to always be careful when celebrating another culture’s festival.

“Bon Odori is believed to be a Buddhist festival to honour ancestral spirits. The Japanese people celebrate the festival by returning to their hometowns and cleaning the graves of their ancestors as well as visiting altars belonging to their families.

“This custom has been practised since 500 to 600 years ago and it involves the Bon Odori dance.

“As it is a religious festival, Muslims are advised to refrain from participating in it as a measure to protect their aqidah,” said the wing’s information chief Dr Najihatussalehah Ahmad in a separate statement.

PAS vice-president Datuk Idris Ahmad, who is the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of religious affairs, came under the spotlight after saying that Muslims should not attend the annual Bon Odori Festival as it had elements of another religion in it.

The Bon Odori Festival is scheduled to be held at the Shah Alam Sports Complex on July 16.

The event has been held here for decades in line with Malaysia’s Look East Policy and to create a platform of goodwill between Malaysians and the many Japanese businesses that had heavily invested in Selangor. – The Star