CNY 2023 – A Wonderland of Lights @ Jenjarom’s Fo Guang Shan Dong Zen Temple

Whenever the Lunar New Year rolls around, the sleepy Chinese new village of Jenjarom in Selangor transforms into a lively hotspot; its narrow roads jam-packed with vehicles and people visiting the famous Fo Guang Shan Dong Zen temple.

Built in 1994, the temple is one of the village’s iconic landmarks, and is run and managed by Fo Guang Shan, a Taiwan-based Chinese Mahayana Buddhist monastic order. To attract tourists and devotees, the temple holds a large lights and lantern festival each year over the Lunar New Year celebration, which runs for two weeks.

The last few celebrations were subdued as COVID restrictions were still in place, but this year’s event sees the crowd back in full force – as the fam and I experienced during our recent visit.

Keeping to the Year of the Rabbit theme, the decorations are an interesting mix of quirky designs (including several superhero minions) mixed with religious and cultural iconography, including lighted statuettes of monks and a tunnel of lights shaped like the Buddha.

The place was EXTREMELY crowded, making it difficult to squeeze through the walkways at times. It also started raining as soon as we arrived, and did not abate even when we left, so we were not able to explore as comfortably or as much as we wanted to.

FGSDZ is spread across 16 acres, and is divided into many sections. The outdoor area consists of beautifully landscaped parks filled with trees, sculptures, statues, and gazebos, interspersed with small streams, and ponds.

We entered through a side door instead of the main entrance, so the first thing we saw was a walkway lined with giant leaves and flowers with floating fish, as well as a pretty bridge/gazebo with lotus lights bobbing over the water’s surface.

On the right was a large hall that had been converted to food stalls serving vegetarian food, but it was so crowded there was no space to sit down. Good thing we already had dinner before coming!

The rain started pouring, so we sought refuge outside the main hall, which was a covered area. An elevated stage had been set up with Buddha sitting on a golden altar, flanked by hundreds of light offerings in the shape of lotus flowers.

We were just in time for prayers, so the fam and I stood in the designated area and listened as the monks chanted and sang. The temple staff gave out prayer cards for those who wanted to chant along, but these were in Chinese, as a majority of the devotees are Chinese. Unfortunately, this banana can’t read Chinese. 😛

The main hall, which features a giant Buddha statue.

The walls are lined with bronze carved panels depicting scenes from Buddha’s life. There are also wooden tablets with prayer sheets on them, and these are covered with pieces of embroidered cloth when not in use.

Making our way to another section of the temple, we were greeted by a giant birthday cake topped with rabbits and a crown, built over a fountain lit up by colourful lights. It’s a rather unusual structure for a temple, but great for photos. Fun tidbit: Apparently the lighting setup in the temple took six months to build!

A large statue and relief of Buddha and his disciples in front of a pond, featuring lights designed to look like fish, lotus flowers, and waves.

The main entrance to the temple featured an avenue lined with giant lanterns that had colourful patterns and traditional Chinese elements like Mandarin ducks. There were also paper structures featuring the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac.

More colourful light decorations. This had a story to go along with it: in one of his lifetimes, the Bodhisattva (what devotees use to refer to Buddha in his past lives) was born as a rabbit, but retained the Buddha’s compassionate nature.

Coming across a weary and hungry pilgrim who required sustenance before he could perform his rites, the rabbit realized it had nothing to offer, and decided to give its flesh to satisfy the man’s hunger. It then threw itself willingly into the man’s campfire.

The pilgrim was actually the lord of the devas, Sakra, in disguise – and upon seeing the selfless act of the rabbit, was deeply moved; pulled it out of the fire and lifted it into the heavens. Sakra also painted the rabbit’s image on top of his palace, Sudharma, and did the same on the moon’s face. Which is also where we have the Chinese legend of how we can see an image of a rabbit on the moon’s surface, whenever there’s a full moon.

One of my favourite sections in the temple was this tunnel of lights shaped like a seated monk/Buddha. There were cute illustrations of moral tales on each side of the archway, including some Western tales like that of the rabbit and the tortoise.

Did not explore this area as it was packed – there was barely space to move (not pictured coz I didn’t want to wade into the sea of human bodies lol) Apparently the highlight here is a 3-meter tall rabbit.

There were actually many areas of the temple we weren’t able to go to as the rain was pouring and the crowd made it difficult to navigate (also, I was with my parents and they were tired).

But if you have time to spare and the weather permits, do check out the place thoroughly! There’s a calligraphy hall where you can try your hand at writing auspicious couplets (you don’t have to know Chinese, you just have to follow the traced characters). There’s also a mini art museum displaying traditional Chinese art, with rabbits as the main theme, and another museum with displays of the temple’s rich history.

The FGS Dong Zen temple lights display will be running until February 5, 2023. The temple is open from 10am to 10pm.

For more info, visit (website is in Chinese but there’s an English tab for you fellow bananas out there).


PT 2297, Jalan Sungai Buaya, Kampung Jenjarom, 42600 Kuala Langat, Selangor, Malaysia

Opening hours: 10AM – 10PM (during the festival. Normal hours 10AM – 6PM)

Getting there: Public transport is tricky, so your best bet is by car.


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