Front view of the temple
|Founder||Phra Kru Palat Vieng|
|Construction cost||RM250,000 – RM1.9 million|
Wat Chetawan (Thai: วัดเชตวัน; RTGS: Wat Chetawan) (also called as the Chetawan Buddhist Temple) is a Thai temple in Petaling District, Selangor, Malaysia. The temple is situated at Jalan Pantai, off Jalan Gasing in Petaling Jaya. It was built in 1957 and officiated by the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the King of Thailand at the time. The temple also becoming the only Malaysian Siamese temple which has been chosen as the custodian of the Buddha sacred relics for all Malaysian Buddhists as part of an ancient relics discovered in Piprahwa, a village in Uttar Pradesh near the border of the Kingdom of Nepal in 1898 which presented to King Chulalongkorn of Siam by the then British Viceroy of India, Lord Curzon.[note 1]
In 1956, Phra Kru Palat Vieng, a veteran member of the sangha (community of monks) and an old time resident of Kuala Lumpur initiated the idea of building a sizeable Buddhist temple close to the federal capital of Malaya. The proposal was warmly welcomed by the state government of Selangor where they allocated two acres of land as the proposed site of the temple the following year. Another piece of land measuring two and half acres was acquired through donations collected from well-wishers from both Malaya and Thailand and his own savings. Besides the generous donations from well-wishers, King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand's personally contributed to the temple construction funds through his state visit in 1962. The federal government of Malaya at the time also rallied to the good cause by giving a grant through Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman.
As the planned structure was to reflect the finest of Thai temple architecture, the Fine Arts Department of Thailand in Bangkok was commissioned to draw up the architectural plans and to oversee the construction of the temple. With the combined workforce of local builders and skilled craftsmen from Thailand, the main shrine together with the temple structures was completed on 26 June 1962 and officiated by the King himself accompanied by Queen Sirikit. During the special ceremony, the King raising the temple's decorative roof element of chofa. This was followed with the visits for religious ceremonies by Princess Sirindhorn, Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn and Princess Galyani Vadhana. King Bhumibol also had granted the royal consent for the King royal insignia to be mounted on the front gable of the building and personally donating the main Buddha shrine of Phra Buddha Thammeen, a rare honour that reflected the King special consideration and compassion towards the construction of the temple. Since then, no additional structures were added until under the abbotship of Phra Khru Sophitchariyaphorn (Pien Saccadhammo). In 2009, stupa are being added to the temple where the construction was completed in 2012 with a cost of RM1.9 million. To commemorate the 2,600th anniversary of Buddha's Enlightenment as well marking the birthday's of King Bhumibol and Queen Sirikit, a portion of sacred relics of Buddha were presented to the temple on 27 June 2012 by the President of the Executive Committee of His Holiness the Supreme Patriarch of Thailand and Member of the Sangha Supreme Council of Thailand, Somdej Phrabuddhacharn as a goodwill from Thai Buddhists to Malaysian Buddhists.
Apart from become the centre for religious community of Malaysian Siamese, the temple also become the place of devotees from non-Thais. The main shrine is heavily gilded in gold leaves and intricately decorated with multi-coloured glass tiles. Its main prayer hall houses several images of Buddha while in the pavilion features the four-faced goddess of Phra Phrom and the Goddess of Mercy of Guan Yin. Another prayer hall pays tribute to abbots with Malay titles that marking their northern Malay Peninsula and southern Thai origin. The temple always welcoming donation from visitors which will be mainly used to sustain the temple and its activities.
- According to the chief abbot of Wat Chetawan, Phra Khru Sophitchariyaphorn, Buddha's relics enshrined in the stupa is of great historical and religious significance as it was part of relics discovered in Piprahwa, a village in Uttar Pradesh near the border of the Kingdom of Nepal in 1898 which then presented to King Chulalongkorn of Siam by the then British Viceroy of India, Lord Curzon. King Chulalongkorn distributed part of the relics to Japan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Siberia and the rest were ceremoniously enshrined in the Golden Mount Chedi in Bangkok in 1899. To commemorate the 2,600th anniversary of Buddha's Enlightenment and to mark King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit's 85th and 80th birthday anniversaries respectively, a portion of those sacred relics of Buddha were presented to Wat Chetawan in Malaysia on 27 June 2012 by senior monk from Bangkok, Somdej Phramaharatch Amangkalajarn as a token of goodwill from Thai Buddhists to Malaysian Buddhists.
- Sharyn Shufiyan (31 August 2014). "Value one and all". The Star. Retrieved 21 March 2019 – via PressReader.
The idea was put forward – by a Thai monk, Phra Kru Palat Vieng – in 1956, a proposal was submitted in 1957, and the subsequent year saw the Selangor state government allocating almost 1ha (2 acres) of land for the temple. Through donations, the temple grounds were extended to 1.8ha (4.5 acres) and additional structures were built. Today, apart from the (prayer and ordination hall), the temple complex consists of a meditation hall where a Sleeping Buddha resides, a bell tower to announce the commencement of ceremonies, the monks' (living quarters), the (a rest area), Brahma and the Kuan Yin pavilions and a columbarium. Two trees that are significant in Buddhist doctrine were also planted on the grounds – the bodhi tree, which is associated with providing shelter, and the sala tree, associated with the Buddha's birth and death. Designed by the Fine Arts Department of Thailand and built by Thai craftsmen and local builders, the Chetawan temple was opened by Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej on 26 June 1962, with the raising of the (roof decoration). Before construction began, though, a fundraising rally was initiated and received widespread support not just from Buddhists, but also the Government of Malaya, which – through Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj – contributed a grant of RM100,000. A further RM45,000 was contributed by T. H. Tan (later Tan Sri), then secretary-general of the UMNO-MCA-MIC Alliance Party.
- T. Yong; M. Rahman (11 October 2013). Diaspora Engagement and Development in South Asia. Springer. pp. 216–. ISBN 978-1-137-33445-9.
- "PJ's Thai Buddhist temple gets new stupa". The Star. 21 July 2012. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
- Alan Teh Leam Seng (22 October 2017). "Malaya remembers King Bhumibol". New Straits Times. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
Interestingly, it was reported that just before the consecration ceremony, on 26 June 1962, a 70-year-old Thai woman knelt before King Bhumibol and pledged her obeisance to the Thai monarch. The woman, known only as Madam Hia, had made the journey all the way from Bangkok to present a cheque of ฿20,000 to the Thai monarch at Wat Chetawan. Hia, a well known philanthropist in Thailand, had made numerous donations to temples back in her own country in the past and it was through King Bhumibol suggestion that she made the trip to Malaya and present her gift at the newly-built RM250,000 temple in Petaling Jaya.
- "Lord Buddha's Relics presented to Malaysian Buddhists". Nalanda Buddhist Society Malaysia. 4 July 2012. Archived from the original on 21 March 2019. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
- Melissa Goh (14 October 2016). "In Malaysia, Thai Buddhists remember late King Bhumibol". Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
- Insight Guides (1 June 2017). Insight Guides: Explore Kuala Lumpur. Apa Publications. pp. 192–. ISBN 978-1-78671-728-3.
- Kooi F Lim (4 May 2015). "Wesak in Malaysia: A morning at Thai Wat Chetawan". The Buddhist Channel. Retrieved 22 March 2019.