Sultan leads Maulud march
By Danial Norjidi

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam yesterday led 17,000 people in yesterday's mass gathering and a 4.3-km procession to commemorate the birthday of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) at the Taman Haji Sir Muda Omar 'Ali Saifuddien.

His Majesty was greeted upon arrival by the Minister of Religious Affairs, Pehin Jawatan Luar Pekerma Raja Dato Seri Utama Dr Ustaz Haji Awang Md Zain bin Haji Serudin, in his capacity as the Chairperson of the event's high committee.

Also present yesterday were His Royal Highness Prince Al-Muhtadee Billah the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office, His Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, His Royal Highness Prince Sufri Bolkiah, His Royal Highness Prince Jefri, HRH Prince 'Abdul Azim, HRH Prince 'Abdul Malik and HRH Prince 'Abdul Mateen.

Following His Majesty's arrival, the ceremony began with a recital of the surah al-fatihah by the State Mufti, Pehin Datu Seri Maharaja Dato Paduka Seri Setia (Dr) Ustaz Haji Awang Abdul Aziz bin Juned.

This was then followed by a welcoming speech by the Minister of Religious Affairs, in which he was quoted as saying: "It is hoped that holding this annual gathering will have a positive effect and increase awareness for Muslims to always take as an example of Prophet Muhammad's (pbuh) character and morals through appreciation and the following of the teachings of the al-Quran, because the al-Quran is Prophet Muhammad's character."

As in previous years, His Majesty then consented to greet the leaders of each group taking part.

A Dikir Marhaban performance by the Dikir group from the Ministry of Home Affairs then followed and once they reached the 'Ya Habibi' verse, a 21-cannon blast was fired.

The Doa Selamat was then read by the State Mufti to bless the ceremony, followed by three recitals of 'Salawat', praising the Prophet, led by Pehin Datu Imam Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Haji Awang Abdul Hamid bin Bakal.

His Majesty and other members of the Royal Family then led around 17,000 people from 149 groups (of which 133 were numbered and 16 were not) on the 4.3-km procession around the capital.

The participating groups included uniformed agencies groups, government ministries and departments, mukim and village consultative councils, institutions of higher learning, schools, associations and private companies.

The event was also celebrated in other districts, including the Belait District, where the ceremony was held at the municipal field, while the ceremony in the Tutong District was held opposite the Tutong Town community hall.

In the Temburong District, the ceremony was held at the Bangar Town community hall.

This year, the theme is "Ilahi Selamatkan Brunei Darussalam". - Borneo Bulletin (28th February 2010)