Buddhism Festivals

Buddhism Festivals

Buddhism Festivals

Buddhist festivals aim to celebrate the important days in the life of Buddha and introduce the newer generation to His teachings and philosophies. Some festivals are celebrated worldwide while others are restricted to specific countries. The festivals celebrated in specific countries also honour all those personalities also who have had a hand in spreading this great religion in the country.

Festivals nowadays are more spiritual and religious than social in nature; where social, they are more or less restricted to service to the community. They are more an occasion for the Buddhists to remind themselves of the spiritual path they have to follow.   [wp_campaign_1]

Buddhist New Year
In Theravadin countries, Thailand, Burma, Sri Lanka, Cambodia and Lao, the new year is celebrated for three days from the first full moon day in April. In Mahayana countries the new year starts on the first full moon day in January. However, the Buddhist New Year depends on the country of origin or ethnic background of the people. As for example, Chinese, Koreans and Vietnamese celebrate late January or early February according to the lunar calendar, whilst the Tibetans usually celebrate about one month later.

Buddha Jayanti:

Buddha Jayanti or Buddha Purnima is the day on which Buddha, the founder of Buddhism was born. Buddha Purnima is a very important festival for the Buddhists. On this very same day, Buddha’s wife Yashodhara, disciple Ananda, charioteer Channa, and the horse Kantaka were also born. The festival falls on a full moon day in the month of April or May.[wp_campaign_2]

The public face of festivals is not too often seen, especially in India; that has much to do with the present state of the religion, but, if history is to be believed, little to do with what celebrations were like during the days when Buddhism flourished.

The Ploughing Festival
In May, when the moon is half-full, two white oxen pull a gold painted plough, followed by four girls dressed in white who scatter rice seeds from gold and silver baskets. This is to celebrate the Buddha”s first moment of enlightenment, which is said to have happened when the Buddha was seven years old, when he had gone with his father to watched the ploughing.  (Known in Thailand as Raek Na)[wp_campaign_3]

The Elephant Festival
The Buddha used the example of a wild elephant which, when it is caught, is harnessed to a tame one to train. In the same way, he said, a person new to Buddhism should have a special friendship of an older Buddhist. To mark this saying, Thais hold an elephant festival on the third Saturday in November.

The Festival of the Tooth
Kandy is a beautiful city in Sri Lanka. On a small hill is a great temple which was especially built to house a relic of the Buddha – his tooth. The tooth can never be seen, as it is kept deep inside may caskets. But once a year in August, on the night of the full moon, there is a special procession for it.

Ulambana (Ancestor Day)
Is celebrated throughout the Mahayana tradition from the first to the fifteenth days of the eighth lunar month. It is believed that the gates of Hell are opened on the first day and the ghosts may visit the world for fifteen days. Food offerings are made during this time to relieve the sufferings of these ghosts. On the fifteenth day, Ulambana or Ancestor Day, people visit cemeteries to make offerings to the departed ancestors. Many Theravadins from Cambodia, Laos and Thailand also observe this festival.

Ulambana is also a Japanese Buddhist festival known as Obon, beginning on the thirteenth of July and lasting for three days, which celebrates the reunion of family ancestors with the living.

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