NOT: It’s still forbidden for Bon Odori

PETALING JAYA: While Sultan Selangor has ordered state religious authorities to allow the Bon Odori festival to continue, the Islamist party PAS remains adamant that Muslims should stay away from the Japanese cultural holiday in Shah Alam.

The PAS ulema and the women’s wing have both said Muslims should not attend the July 16 event, saying the Japanese festival contains elements of Buddhist rituals that could influence akidah (faith).

“The PAS Ulama Council urges Muslims not to attend the Bon Odori festival due to the religious elements.

“While there are opinions that say the festival is only related to Japanese culture, we believe this does not dismiss concerns that the event contains elements of Buddhist rituals.” ) Datuk Idris Ahmad, mufti and other religious scholars.

“The reasoning that this is a Japanese cultural event does not have enough merit to be considered,” PAS Ulama leader Datuk Ahmad Yahya said in a statement.

Ahmad said others should emulate the Kelantan government’s decision not to enroll Bon Odori dance as a cultural performance in the Kelantan-Japan Cultural Festival 2022.

The women’s wing of PAS also advised Muslims to stay away from the Bon Odori festival in order to “protect their aqidah”.

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

“This custom has been practiced for 500 to 600 years and includes the Bon Odori dance.

“As this is a religious holiday, Muslims are advised to refrain from attending,” the wing’s chief information officer, Dr Najihatussalehah Ahmad, said in a separate statement.

Meanwhile, Perlis Mufti Datuk Dr. Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin suggested that the name of the festival be changed to avoid confusion among Muslims.

“If possible, give it a new name, or another name besides Bon Odori, to avoid confusion with the original festival which contains elements of syirik (polytheism) and khurafat (superstition).

“It can be named the Japanese Cultural Festival or the Japanese Society,” Mohd Asri said in a Facebook post.

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

The issue came into the limelight when Idris, a vice president of PAS, said Muslims should avoid the event.

However, the ruler of Selangor, Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah ordered the Islamic Department of Selangor (Jais) not to ban Muslims from attending the festival.

The sultan reiterated that the festival is a cultural celebration that has existed in Malaysia for decades.

The ruler also told the town hall officers of Idris, Jais and Shah Alam to attend the festival to get a true picture of the event.