Thursday, June 12, 2008

Bukit Mertajam Sojourn

On June 2nd to 5th, I went to to Bukit Mertajam, Seberang Jaya, Penang for an outstation trip to our sister hotel. It has given me the opportunity to visit one of the most significant historical features of Bukit Mertajam area.

It was supposed to be a trip to familiarise our Sales & Marketing team of the upcoming St. Anne's Feast celebrated on 26th July to be exact but the celebration and procession begins way earlier that the date.

As the only decent international class hotel in Bukit Mertajam vicinity, The Summit Hotel Bukit Mertajam is one of the main abode for the pilgrims. We always came out with special room package as most of them came from far just to attend to this important feast.

In a year, hundreds of thousands of people (a quarter of a million!) came to St. Anne's Feast. People as far as Singapore, Brunei, Thailand, Philippines, Australia and other countries as well. I was surprised myself. What makes this festival so important to the Catholics. So I took my time to visit the church myself and explore.

Who is St. Anne?

St. Anne, whose name means "grace" was born in 50BC in either Nazareth or Bethlehem. She is revered by Catholics as the mother of Mary. Interestingly, she also holds the position of patroness of joiners, cabinet makers, miners and all those engaged in spinning, weaving, embroidery, sewing and all sorts of household arts and skills.

Churches have been built in her honour this one in Bukit Mertajam, Malaysia is one of many around the world.

From what I have been told, lots of believer of this Catholic saint will come to pray for family happiness such as wanting to get children and to get married. It is said that praying at the Church and drinking St. Anne's Water will make your wishes come true. There was a fountain of May and Jesus as a child which I saw lots of coins thrown inside as well :) But of course a real Catholic will pray and submit themselves wholeheartedly with humility, not just to get your wishes granted, isn't it.

I walked around outside the church from the old to the new. To the fountain to the hill at the back of the church. The scenery was superb. The new church is beautiful and artistically done. I tool a peep inside the locked new church. Then a good Samaritan (the caretaker of the church, I think) opened up the gate for me to enter. I was truly shocked that he would allow me go in. I asked him to give me brochure about the church. He took the effort to give me a souvenir book of the church. I was too happy to accept. I took my camera and walk slowly to observe the ambiance. It was very calming and soothing, the feeling you had when ever you visit one's worship place.

I have been researching about St. Anne and the feast from the internet. Have been reading the church's history in Bukit Mertajam. Very facinating but I can't be writing it all here. I have no sufficient knowledge nor right to write a subject that is foreign to me. However, I would like to share photos of the place here so that all of you will be able to see it too. Who knows one day you would want to go there to visit.

My intention is truly to observe and learn for knowledge with full respect of the place and the religion that is not mine. I was happy to be given the chance and understanding. A unique thing being Malaysian. We all share and respect each other's celebrations and beliefs.

My prayer: May our country stays united and peaceful forever. Amin... :)

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