Monday, November 07, 2016
A Catholic Haj
My parish organized a local pilgrimage on Hari Raya Haji covering two neighbouring states, namely Negeri Seremban and Melaka. Woke up at an ungodly hour to be able to gather at church by 7:00 AM. Thankfully, I was feeling better. Once registration was completed, everyone was grouped according to their buses. The priest who led the pilgrimage made an opening prayer and we all started streaming into the four waiting buses. The start of the journey was wet with a little drizzle. In the bus, we were given our breakfast pack and as expected there was a praise and worship session. Didn't sing all the way to Church of St. John Vianney in Tampin.
When I was last in Tampin, it was also for a pilgrimage. That was in 2009. The church looks different from what I remember it. The front of the church had been dramatically renovated and original chapel is no longer a kindergarten. Back then, it was Year for Priests. In 2016, the church is designated with a Holy Door of Mercy for the Jubilee of Mercy. The first order of business upon reaching the church was for four busloads of people to do their 'business'. Since many of the pilgrims were elderly women, that exercise took quite a long time. Once the organizers got everyone settled down in the church, the mass began. At the end, there was a short explanation about the Jubilee of Mercy and a procession through the Door of Mercy. After that, lunch was served. I wasn't interested in all the fried stuff and curry, so I didn't eat much.
The next stop on our schedule was in Melaka-- Church of St. Mary, Air Salak. Quite a few of pilgrims came from there. It's a small Chinese village where 98% of the populace is Catholic. Never knew such a place exists in Peninsular Malaysia. Our main purpose for going there was to have a look at an exhibition about the Blessed Virgin Mary. A bunch of creative people in the church had transformed the old church building (loved the old tiles on the floor) into a beautiful exhibit using corrugated cardboard boxes, LED lights, and laser cutters. The whole nave was lined with carefully spaced boxes and the statues of various BVMs from various countries. At the apse were three big dioramas of Our Lady of Fatima, Our Lady of Guadalupe and Our Lady of Lourdes.
Our hosts also gave a short presentation about the history of the church and some topics relating scapulars and medallions. More food was in store for us, inclusive of a fruit buffet from the local orchards. Had my fill of guava and duku. Unfortunately, by that time my battery was already running low. Don't have my health back to normal yet.
Back in KL, we went for dinner at Taiping Matang Seafood Porridge Restaurant. Hot and soupy, perfect for me. A portion of 1.5 pax can actually feed 3 pax, so don't be surprised if the prices seem a little above average. The seafood is also fresh, so its worth every penny. The porridge style is supposedly Teochew, but its really broth in rice. Kinda like the stuff you get at Go Rice Shop. That concludes my Hari Raya Haji pilgrimage. The end.