The quiet and posh residential area in Jalan Bangkung, Bangsar, was hit by a tidal wave of loud music, vibrant live performances, piercing whistle blows and screams by throngs of people from all walks of life and (not forgetting) smoky scent of grilled meat, last night.
Sounds rowdy enough? Yes, but all for a good cause and it was done peacefully as well.
I usually go to Jalan Bangkung for two reasons; the restaurants and Bali Ayu spa. Last night was special because a group of NGOs; Voice of the Children, Women’s Aid Organization, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, NurSalam, World Without War and restaurant group Maxim Image (owners of Cava, Leonardo and Opus) came together to organize an event where Malaysians could gather in one place to express their solidarity and commitment to peace and non-violence. The night was marked by a candle-lighting ceremony and a not-so-solemn walk with lanterns around the strip of restaurants.
What I find interesting was how men, women and children from all ages and races were able to shed their cultural and political differences by holding hands and partying the night away. I smiled watching a man of about 60 years old with seemingly mild demeanour, clapping and dancing to the rhythm of hip drum beats. There were two men in the same age group; an Indian and a Sikh, waving the Jalur Gemilang at the front of the stage, while being observed by a foreigner who grinned with amusement.
Pet dogs of all shapes and sizes were not left out from the event as well. Many owners brought their furry friends to participate in the lantern march, much to the envy of neighbouring dogs, barking ruefully from the inside of gated residences. It was amusing observing some of them chastising their over-zealous pooches trying to sniff around the lower regions of those walking at the front.
It was also an expressive night where ordinary people displayed slogans on banners and T-shirts from “Stop violence against women”, “Are you a registered voter?” to “Love us, not eat us”. My favourite was, “An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind” by Mahatma Gandhi and one which says, “I am woman, hear me roar”.
The live performances were refreshing, energetic and pretty darn entertaining but nothing still touch the people quite as much as Michael Jackson’s Heal the World when it came on the loud speaker.
What I saw last night taught me one lesson. We can achieve unity and peace as a multi-cultural nation, if we want to. It was rare for me to see Malaysians of all races gathered together in a place where pork, beef and alcohol were served with the present of dogs, and non-Chinese children took to the street with Chinese lanterns of all shapes and sizes. Nobody came out and accused anyone of being disrespectful of any particular religion but instead focussed on respecting each other’s diversity without compromising their own.
I wish everyday could be like this and not just during an annual event. We should remind ourselves each day that we need to heal the world and make it a better place.
Peace to everyone!