Buddhist Maha Vihara’s Dhamma for the Deaf classes was born out of a love story. Having come to the Vihara to say their vows, a deaf couple in love found themselves unable to register their marriage at the Vihara because they couldn’t communicate with the Vihara’s Assistant Registrar of Marriages who wasn’t conversant in sign language. Sister Tan Lee Bee, a sign language interpreter with Radio Television Malaysia (RTM) came to the rescue and the rest was history.
Since that serendipitous event, a few deaf devotees visited the Vihara along with Sister Lee Bee and enquired on the possibility of organizing activities for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Approval was readily granted, an unprecedented achievement for them, as they had sought permission in the past from other organizations to hold their Deaf group events but were turned down. Brother A Hemadasa who was instrumental in facilitating the first deaf couple’s marriage registration process, and organizing the deaf group’s activities within the Vihara, remains the Advisor of the group.
Celebrating Over Two Decades of Deaf Education
Dhamma for the Deaf classes began in July 1999 and have been continuing to this day, every fortnight on a Sunday. In this class, students with hearing disabilities are given the opportunity to learn Buddhism, moral education, education on human rights as a Malaysian citizen, government benefits and access to them and much more, with the aim of empowering them and supporting them to be educated, and productive members of society.
Many a time, deaf people have been exploited, swindled, abused, imposed-upon, ill-treated by unscrupulous individuals, cheated of government benefits, and sexually abused or molested. However, unaware of their fundamental rights and the processes involved in lodging complaints with the relevant authorities, their plight often goes unnoticed. These classes equip members of the deaf fraternity with the necessary knowledge on various aspects of life, society, good values, and more, thereby enabling them to live their lives to the fullest.
The Buddhist Maha Vihara’s Dhamma for the Deaf classes have helped transform the deaf community from a relatively dependent group, into a caring and benevolent community in line with the Buddhist spirit of giving and charity (“dana”). It is indeed heart endearing to witness how a handicapped community is in turn giving back to society by putting into practice the lessons learnt at the Dhamma for the Deaf classes. They have also produced a VCD for the deaf community in sign language showing the various interesting sites at the Buddhist Maha Vihara, a Buddhist deaf chanting using sign language, the sign language alphabet and Buddhist glossary and some frequently asked questions on Buddhism.
Date: 1st and last Sunday of every month (Fortnightly)
Time: 3.00 – 4.30 pm
Venue: International Pagoda
Instructors: Brother Premaseri and Sis Tan Lee Bee