The hospitality shown by local people to Thai Buddhist monks performing the Thudong pilgrimage in Indonesia reflects the true face of harmony, the Religious Affairs Ministry has said.
Thudong is a ritual performed by bhantes (Buddhist monks), which involves walking long distances, often up to a thousand kilometers, to emulate the Buddha.
“The hospitality shows our true face of harmony and tolerance. Hence, if some people think they could exploit religious polarization or identity politics, they will know the answer just by seeing these good people,” said Supriyadi, the ministry’s director general of Buddhist community guidance, said here on Friday.
Monks participating in Thudong this year commenced their journey from Thailand on March 23, 2023, and arrived in Batam, Riau Islands, on May 8. They are currently on the way to their final destination: the Borobudur Temple in Magelang district, Central Java.
Throughout their route, the bhantes have been warmly welcomed by residents who have been encouraging them and providing them with food, shelter, and medical support.
Supriyadi said that the monks have been impressed by the Indonesian people’s hospitality, adding that it will be a huge capital to encourage the Indonesian people to exhibit more of their friendliness and tolerance, including towards all guests coming here.
“If we look on social media, they are very moved because as monks in Indonesia, a Muslim-majority country, they have been accepted very well,” the director general added.
Earlier, several bhantes participating in the Thudong ritual commended the high levels of religious tolerance and harmony that they observed during their journey in Indonesia.
“As conveyed by bhantes who joined the Thudong ritual, they said that tolerance in Indonesia is the highest compared to the other countries that they have crossed,” Wawan, a bhante from Cirebon who joined the Thudong ritual, said on May 18.
Meanwhile, Bhante Maha Or, a monk from Malaysia who also joined the procession, lauded the Indonesian people, saying they exhibited higher tolerance for the Buddhist faith compared to the other countries he passed on the journey.