The Muaro Jambi Temple Festival and the Vesak Ritual

3 May 2017

Recognized as one of the largest and best-preserved ancient temple complexes in South East Asia, the Muaro Jambi Temple in the province of Jambi in Sumatra will be highlighted with an array of exciting festivities when the Muaro Jambi Temple Festival takes place on 11th to 14th May 2017.

Initially scheduled to take place from 28th to 31st May 2017, the event is rescheduled to coincide with the Buddhism ritual of Vesak which will be held on 11th May, stated Governor of Jambi Province, Zumi Zola. “Since the temple complex is a world-class heritage site, we will also present a world-class theme. That is the reason why the theme of the event is: ‘Together we will revive the indigenous wisdom of Muaro Jambi for the world’,” added Governor Zumi Zola.

No less than 1,000 Buddhist devotees are expected to congregate hereto perform Vesak Day rituals and celebrations at the temple complex, similar to the one taking place at the Borobudur Temple in Central Java. “The tradition of conducting Vesak rituals at the Muaro Jambi Temple Complex has been held for many years. This is because the temple is known as the center of Buddhism in Sumatra during its golden period around the 11th century,” said Head of the Culture and Tourism Office of Muaro Jambi Regency, Indira Gunawan.

Showcasing the vastness of the Muaro Jambi Temple complex as well as the well preserved culture of its people, the festival will feature art and cultural performances, games and competitions, and more. There will be a colossal traditional dance performance, a Seloko or traditional literary competition of the Malay ethnic group, a fun-walk around the temple complex, the ancient canal festival at the temple complex, bazaar and exhibitions, and a lot more. As a special treat, two renowned entertainers, Adelia Putri Bintang and Bobby Bollywood will also highlight the event.


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Indira Gunawan explained that the festival is aimed to highlight and strengthen the local wisdom of the indigenous people of Jambi and attract the interest of tourists to visit this heritage site. “The festival is, moreover, aimed to make people more aware of the existence of this temple and its important significance in the history of South East Asia and Buddhism. It is not only a spiritual experience for tourists but is at the same time a historic research site for domestic and international visitors.”

The festival will take place in the temple complex that covers 7 villages, which are the villages of Dusun Baru, Danau Lamo, Muaro jambi, Kemingking Luar, Kemingking Dalam, Teluk Jambu, and Dusun Mudo.


History of Muaro Jambi temple complex

Muaro Jambi on the island of Sumatra, - then known as Svarnadwipa - the Golden Island - was the center of Buddhist learning during the reign of the powerful Srivijaya kingdom, and later in the ancient Buddhist Malay kingdom where bhiksus from as far away China and India and around the region came to study the religion and seek enlightenment.

The well-known Chinese Master Teacher I Ching is known to have studied here from the year 671 on. During his stay he also wrote the first dictionary translating Malay into Mandarin.

It is also known that one thousand years ago in the early 11th century, the great Master Buddhist Teacher Atisha is said to have spent 11 years studying the Buddha Mahayana Tantrayana teachings at Muaro Jambi in Sumatra, from where he then proceeded on pilgrimage to the Borobudur temple in Central Java.

Muaro Jambi Temple is one of the richest archaeological sites on the island of Sumatra. The eight temple-like structures are Buddhist, and were probably built around the 11th-13th century. Archaeologists conclude that the site was the center of Old Jambi, the capital of ancient Malay kingdom which reigned supreme about ten centuries ago.


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Muaro Jambi temple complex covers an area of 12 km2, along the side of the Batanghari River. There are eight main temples in the complex. All of them are located in the central area, fortified by walls. Three of them have already been renovated.

Muaro Jambi Temple is situated 30 km northeast of the city of Jambi, along the Batanghari River. You can travel to Jambi from Medan in North Sumatra or Padang in West Sumatra. Medan is an international gateway, so there are frequent international flights to Medan’s Kuala Namu airport, where you can connect with a domestic flight to Jambi. If your departure point is Jakarta, there are both direct and connecting flights scheduled from Jakarta to Jambi. You can also fly to Padang and travel overland to Jambi. It's a popular destination, so travel agents in Jambi will have packages available to Muaro Jambi.


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