Bringing people together on this blessed day with the art of origami.
It is now close to two months since the government implemented the Movement Control Order (MCO) in efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 and flatten the curve. Feeling “trapped” in our own houses, spirits waning, and resilience is tested—some of us have even begun to question if there’s an end to all this turmoil.
There’s no doubt that this pandemic has changed the way we usually do things, particularly how we celebrate special occasions. It’s no exception for this year’s Vesak Day. Typically, most Buddhists begin their early mornings on this day by visiting temples to perform religious rituals and pay tribute to Siddharta Gautama, the founder of the religion. This year, however, such celebrations are prohibited, following the guidelines from the recent Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO).
A Festival of Rejoicing and Reflection
A significant religious event for Buddhists all over the world, Vesak is a festival of togetherness where devotees rejoice for the birth and enlightenment of the Lord Buddha, as well as reflecting on his death. For Creative Production Manager Yuthika Peiris, going out on the street at night to commemorate the week-long celebration was a norm back in his hometown in Sri Lanka.
“Millions of people were on the street just to see the decorations full of lanterns and lights. We’d also donate some food to children at the orphanage, elderly at the nursing homes, and homeless people on the street because Vesak is also about making special efforts to bring happiness to the less fortunate,” recalled Yuthika.
When asked about this year’s celebration, Yuthika accentuated on the simplicity, reflecting the teachings of the Lord Buddha. “In Malaysia, usually there’s a parade where devotees would march from a Buddhist temple, around Brickfield’s area, and back to the temple. However, this year, I stayed home and made some Sri Lankan food which I usually don’t get to.”
“Milk and rice are also something we only make on special occasions. It’s very similar to nasi lemak—just without the anchovies, peanuts, and sambal. Later in the afternoon, I’d have a vegetarian meal for my lunch and watch Sri Lankan teledrama, just to make myself feel at home,” shared Yuthika.
Vesak Day Goes Digital
Despite not being able to celebrate Vesak Day together with family and friends, Forest Interactive find its way to bring people closer together on this blessed day by inviting them to create lotus origami—a symbol of fortune and purification.
“It’s been a tradition here to celebrate everyone’s special occasions such as some of the UN International Days, Birthday Month, and the National Day of each country,” said Head of Corporate PR Sheena Pimentel. “Being in self-isolation at home and having our movements restricted has affected all of us, both physically and mentally. We’re doing everything that we can to support each other, especially those who are living alone, to feel closer with other talents.”
She added: “By organizing internal events such as this Vesak Day, it gives our talents a chance to take their mind off from work. We want them to take their time to relax and engage in conversations with their peers via video conferencing. Besides, it’s a good way to encourage them to check on one another. Our employee engagement campaigns have always revolved around diversity, innovation and inclusion—and understanding each other’s way of life reflects that.”
For ICT Sales Senior Executive Nursyahrudin Abdul Rahim (Rudie), what sparked his interest in joining the event was the beauty of the lotus origami itself. Rudie then learned how to make a lotus origami by watching a few tutorial videos on YouTube. “I found pictures of lotus origami online and they looked beautiful. I was wondering how to make one.”
“To be honest, it wasn’t really easy to make a lotus origami because you need to be both accurate and gentle on the fold. I, myself, attempted 3 times before I got the final fold done, and the effort was truly worth it,” Rudie shared amusingly.
At Forest Interactive, we believe in celebrating the importance of togetherness, especially during these trying times. Home away from home always had its purpose. Since the implementation of MCO last March, we’ve been utilizing technology to encourage our talents to stay connected and engaged while practising social distancing. Other than Vesak Day, the company has also previously organized internal webinars, namely “Product Knowledge” and “What’s A Day Like in Your Role?” throughout the work-from-home period. The webinars were held virtually on weekdays at 3 pm via Microsoft Teams.
Edited by: Basir Zainuddin