By Edwin Eng
His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam yesterday joined nearly 20,000 people for this year's mass gathering and a 4.3-km procession in the capital to mark the birthday anniversary of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) at the Taman Haji Sir Muda Omar 'Ali Saifuddien.
His Majesty was greeted upon arrival at the Taman by Pehin Jawatan Luar Pekerma Raja Dato Seri Utama Dr Ustaz Awang Haji Mohd Zain Haji Serudin, Minister of Religious Affairs and Chairperson and members of the high committee of the event.
Also attending the event were His Royal Highness Prince Hj Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office, His Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, HRH Prince 'Abdul Azim, HRH Prince 'Abdul Malik and HRH Prince 'Abdul Mateen.
After the arrival of His Majesty, the ceremony commenced with the recitation of surah al-fatihah by the State Mufti, Pehin Datu Seri Maharaja Dato Paduka Seri Setia (Dr) Ustaz Haji Awang Abdul Aziz bin Juned.
The Minister of Religious Affairs then made a welcoming speech.
"With the attendance of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Negara Brunei Darussalam, this gathering will surely enliven the spirits of the participants to be more united and practise the religious teachings of Islam.
"The celebration of Prophet Muhammad's (pbuh) birthday anniversary every year is proof of His Majesty's Government and the Muslim community's sincerity in practising a religious way of life," he added.
As soon as the Dikir reached the 'Ya Habibi' verse, a 21-cannon blast was fired and a doa selamat was read by the State Mufti to bless the ceremony followed by three 'salawat' praising the Prophet.
His Majesty and other members of the royal family then led the 4.3-km procession around the capital.
More than 150 teams comprising government ministries and departments, schools and the private sector took part in the procession. The event was also celebrated in other districts.
In the Tutong District, the ceremony was held opposite the community hall, Tutong town, and the guest of honour was Dato Paduka Awang Haji Mustappa bin Haji Sirat, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Defence.
In the Belait District, the ceremony was held at the municipal field and the guest of honour was Awang Haji Abdul Aziz bin Orang Kaya Maharaja Lela Haji Mohd Yussof, Permanent Secretary at the Prime Minister's Office.
The ceremony in Temburong District was held at the community hall, Bangar Town and the guest of honour was Dato Paduka Awang Haji Mohd Hamid bin Haji Mohd Jaafar, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources.
The theme for this year is "Kedewasaan Bernegara dengan Zikir".
- Borneo Bulletin
(10th Mar 2009)