KUALA LUMPUR, June 8 — The Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) said the Selangor Sultan has decreed that the Bon Odori Festival slated for next month in the state capital should be allowed to proceed.
Its director Datuk Mohd Shahzihan Ahmad said Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah summoned officers from Jais and the Shah Alam City Council (MBSA) for an audience this afternoon, during which they were reminded that all decisions must take into consideration the diversity and beliefs of the state’s residents.
“His Highness attended the event several years ago and did not find any elements that could erode Muslim beliefs, as it is just a social event involving Japanese businesses and their employees in Selangor,” he said in a statement today.
Mohd Shahzihan said the Sultan also encouraged the Jais and MBSA officers to attend the event to experience it for themselves.
“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,” he said.
Yesterday, Penang Mufti Datuk Seri Wan Salim Wan Mohd Noor advised Muslims not to participate in the Bon Odori Festival for fear it could lead to “syirik” (polytheism) practices.
His comments echoed those of Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Idris Ahmad who said Muslims should not attend the Bon Odori Festival, planned for July 16 at the Shah Alam Sports Complex in Selangor, as it contains elements of other religions.
The PAS vice-president cited a study by the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) that purportedly found religious elements in the Bon Odori Festival that were causing controversy online among Muslims.
Bon Odori simply means the “Bon dance”, which is performed during Obon, an annual event when Japanese honour the spirits of their ancestors.
Malaysia is one of just a handful of countries where the festival is observed outside of Japan. The festival was first organised here by Japanese expatriates to introduce their country’s culture, arts, and cuisine to Malaysians.
This year’s edition will the 46th Bon Odori in Malaysia, marking the return of the annual event after a two-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic.