PETALING JAYA: Religious affairs minister Idris Ahmad has reminded Muslims not to take part in the Japanese community’s annual Bon Odori summer festival, claiming that the celebration is “influenced by elements of other religions”.
Idris said research conducted by Jakim, the Islamic development department, had confirmed the presence of such influence in the celebration, Bernama reported.
“Therefore, we are advising the Muslims not to participate in the festival or any other programmes that are against their faith and creed,” the news agency quoted him as saying.
A promotional poster for the Shah Alam festival features an anime illustration which includes a hijab-wearing woman clad in a kimono. The poster has drawn a few critical comments on social media.
The annual Bon Odori festival, organised by the Japanese community in Malaysia, is making a return after a two-year hiatus because of Covid-19. It will be held in Shah Alam on July 16 and in Penang on July 30.
The Japan Club of Kuala Lumpur, one of the organisers, describes the Bon Odori festival as having started out as “a small affair for Japanese expatriates to immerse their children in Japanese culture in 1977. It has now grown into a much-awaited annual event of about 35,000 participants each year”.
The other organisers are the Japanese School of Kuala Lumpur and the Japanese Embassy.
The festival showcases Japanese culture and includes drum performances and the Bon Odori dance. This year, it also commemorates the 40th anniversary of Malaysia’s Look East policy.
However, Bernama described the festival as a Japanese Buddhist festival to honour their ancestors.
According to the programme, the festival in Shah Alam, which has the support of the Selangor state government, will open at 4.30pm and will feature a drum performance, the Bon Odori dance in three parts, Japanese “wadaiko” performance, and a guest performance between 7pm and 9.30pm.