Selangor MB says Bon Odori is a Japanese cultural event but will confirm with Jais

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Datuk Seri Amirudin Shari speaks during an event in Shah Alam in this file photograph from May 19, 2020. — Photo by Yusof Mat Isa

By Yiswaree Palansamy

Tuesday, June 07, 2022 3:36 PM MYT

KUALA LUMPUR, June 7 — Selangor has hosted the Bon Odori festival for decades, said Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Amirudin Shari, who saw the event as a celebration of Japanese culture rather than religion.

Commenting on the religious affairs minister’s advice to Muslims to avoid the event, Amirudin said he would nevertheless confirm the matter with the Islamic Religious Department of Selangor (Jais).

“So, I don’t know if there are religious elements or not, but let’s see the (feedback) from the authorities.

“If it’s true (that there are religious elements), then we have to adhere to this advice. If not, what to do?” he added during a press conference. His office shared the recording of Amirudin’s response with malaysian mail.

Earlier, he said he was made to understand that the Bon Odori festival is part of the country’s Look East policy and is a cultural celebration aimed at strengthening ties between locals, Japanese businesses and those involved in the Japanese culture.

National news agency Bernama reported yesterday that Prime Minister’s Department Minister Datuk Idris Ahmad was advising Muslims not to attend the Bon Odori festival to be held at the Shah Alam Sports Complex in Selangor on July 16, saying that it contains elements of other religions. .

The PAS vice president cited a study by the Malaysian Department of Islamic Development (Jakim) which allegedly found religious elements in the Bon Odori festival that were causing online controversy among Muslims.

Bon Odori simply means the “Bon dance”, which is performed during Obon, the season observed by the Japanese to honor the spirits of their ancestors.

Malaysia is one of the few countries where the festival is observed outside of Japan. The festival was first held here by Japanese expatriates to introduce their country’s culture, arts and cuisine to Malaysians.

This year’s edition will be the 46th Bon Odori in Malaysia, marking the return of the annual event after a two-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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