Most people know that Buddhism is a peaceful religion. But to some of us oblivious to its roots, ‘enlightenment’ could mean nothing more than the epiphany of a solved differential equation.
However, on 22 May 2010, Buddha’s story was told with much aplomb, entertaining and delighting audiences young and old with a classic tale.
Colours of Vesak was put up in conjunction with Vesak Day, an annual celebration of the birth, enlightenment and passing of the Buddha.
A performance by the RuShi Buddhist Youth Group, it was indeed a visual feast, bursting with depictions of life both inside and beyond the palace walls of ancient India.
The story traced the growth of the young Prince Siddhartha Gautama, portraying his intelligence and desire to seek for truth outside his comfortable life. Much to the chagrin of his father King Suddhodana, a great future was predicted for the Prince as the Enlightened One upon seeing the Four Sights: sickness, old age, death and a holy man.
After Enlightenment, it was shown that Buddha started spreading his knowledge and wisdom to free the people around him from worldly desires and sufferings.
Interestingly, the issue of equality for women in education and religion was raised in the play. Buddha gave permission to his mother’s sister, Prajapati-Gotami, to join the sangha and establish the first order of nuns, marking a significant moment in history where women were first given the chance to hold high religious positions.
Mandy Koay, vice-president of the organizing committee, said preparations for the concert began way back in December 2009.
“Around five committee members gathered to write the script last year,” the UniLife Rep for City East explained, her purple saree glittering regally to portray Prince Siddhartha’s mother, Queen Maha Maya.
Another performer, UniSA Pharmacy student Chong Sin Lin, said castings and rehearsals only began two and a half months ago. She said it was a challenge choreographing the dances, creating intricate costumes and props, and making everything come together in such a short time.
But come together beautifully it did, with many light moments drawing laughter and thunderous applause throughout the play. A huge paper mache elephant and a flying bird were among the impressive props, while a hilarious Princess Talent Show was held American Idol style to choose a wife for Prince Siddhartha. Princess Glutonary left the audience in guffaws as she devoured her pot of curry, while Princess Strengthorani raised a 100kg bar without a single drop of sweat.
Audience member Dianne Dahim Bungan enjoyed the show and said, “It was a good opportunity for me to understand a little bit more about how a prince became someone who is known to be so good hearted.”
As the culturally diverse crowd stepped out of the concert hall into the cold, enlightened about Buddhism and its way of life, cast and crew packed up and headed over to Pancake House for a well-deserved celebration dinner that lasted into the night.
The RuShi Youth Group was founded by a group of UniSA and University of Adelaide students. Its primary mission is to gather all Buddhists and non-Buddhists who are interested in learning and understanding Buddhism by cultivating compassion, appreciation and mindfulness amongst them. Among its members are students from Australia, China, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Singapore.