Einstein called Buddhist teachings "the most scientific religion," which is especially pronounced in the tradition of its holidays. Denying the existence of God as the supreme Creator, Buddhists deeply respect the laws of nature and spiritual mentors. Following this principle, the main holidays of Buddhism are dedicated to Siddhartha Gautama Buddha.
Gautama, known as Tsarevich Shakyamuni, lived in the VI century BC. e. in the north of India. Siddhartha was born into a royal family. At the age of 29, he left the magnificent palace forever, setting off in search of the truth. Having become an ascetic, he wandered for a long time to reveal the secret of getting rid of human suffering - illness, old age and death.
At the age of 35, during a long meditation under the sacred Bodhi tree, he attained enlightenment and became known as Buddha, which translates from Sanskrit as 'awakened'. Buddha Gautama devoted the rest of his life to the peaceful preaching of his teachings.
Customs of Buddhist celebrations
The philosophy of celebration is different in Buddhism from other religions in essence. This is not a time of lavish meals and relaxation from the works of the righteous, but primarily intense spiritual work.
True Buddhists believe that karmic retribution is magnified thousands of times on significant days. The strength of both good and negative thoughts increases in the same amount. Therefore, this is the best moment for meditation and philosophical reflection. Religious unity during ceremonies is believed to contribute to enlightenment.
Another aspect inherent in the holidays of Buddhism is in tune with the Christian tradition. We are talking about ritual cleanliness - moral and physical. During religious celebrations, Buddhists carefully clean their homes and monasteries. Such actions are not ordinary general cleaning, but a special sacred action. The process of purification is accompanied by the singing of mantras, the extraction of musical sounds that are designed to harmonize the surrounding space.
Other traditions include:
- visiting temples;
- participation in ritual ceremonies;
- donations of gifts to monasteries;
- offerings to monks and teachers;
- doing good deeds.
Religious holidays in Buddhism are celebrated according to the lunar calendar. Their dates are calculated according to special tables by llamas-astrologers and are changed annually. Since ancient times, Buddhists believed that during the full moon, energy is enhanced, so many holidays fall on the full moon.
List of Buddhism Holidays
- Vesak - Birthday, Enlightenment, and Nirvana of the Buddha;
- Buddhist New Year;
- Monlam - the memory of 15 miracles performed by the Buddha;
- Maidari Khural;
- Mystery TsAM;
- Turning the wheel of learning;
- Dalai Lama's birthday.
There are no strict regulations on what holidays in Buddhism must be strictly observed. Ritual preferences depend on the school (Mahayana, Theravada, Tantra) and on the historical traditions of individual countries.
The above list is far from complete. In particular, in Tibetan Buddhism, Dzul, unknown to other currents, is commemorated everywhere - Memorial Day of the philosopher Zonhava.
Asola Perahara, a celebration in honor of the Tooth of the Buddha, is celebrated only by supporters of Theravada in the only temple on the island of Sri Lanka, where this amazing relic is stored. Lush celebrations last two weeks and include processions with festively decorated elephants. On one of them a casket with a sacred Tooth is transported around the city.
The main holidays of Buddhism
The most significant dates in the Buddhist world are worth telling in more detail. To the question "What is the most important holiday in Buddhism?" You can answer unambiguously - Vesak. It symbolizes immediately three sacred events: the birth, enlightenment and death of the Buddha. According to the legend, Gautama was born, gained the gift of enlightenment and left for Nirvana in the second full moon of the year. Usually it falls on the last days of May.
Wesak's celebration lasts for a whole week. In the monastic communities special prayers are served and magnificent ceremonies are held. Houses and temples are lovingly decorated with lanterns, fresh flowers and burning lamps, which symbolize the light of Buddha's great compassion. People make a pilgrimage, come to monasteries to indulge in meditation and listen to the stories of monks. Agricultural work these days is prohibited as a sign of mercy to all earthly creatures, including livestock.
In the Buddhist tradition, the New Year is celebrated on the first new moon of spring. Due to differences in the calendar of different schools, the New Year is celebrated at different times in countries such as Mongolia, Tibet, Kalmykia.
On the eve of Saagalgan, respected astrologer llamas announce the predictions for next year. Prayers are held at venerated deities in monasteries. The most beloved goddess is Sri Davy. She patronizes the ancient Tibetan capital - Lhassa.
There is a belief that Sri-Devi is inspecting his possessions on New Year's Eve to make sure that the residents are well prepared for her arrival. In order to earn the goddess’s mercy and secure her position for the year ahead, it is recommended not to go to bed all night: pray in the temple or recite mantras at the home altar.
Traditionally, the festive feast should include dishes made from white products. This period of the year is associated with the massive appearance of offspring in livestock. There is a lot of milk, hence the name Sagaalgan, which translates as 'white month'.
Prayer Monlam begins with the first dawn of the New Year and is read 15 days in a row. The holiday is dedicated to the recollection of the fifteen miracles created by Buddha. The story goes that several monks left their former ascetic teachers to join the supporters of the Buddha. The monks who hated him began to publicly slander the Master, refuting his holiness.
Buddha was indifferent to all ridicule, but the disciples urged him to demonstrate visible evidence of their power. In the Indian village of Shrasvati, Buddha performed miraculous deeds for 15 days in a row, after which his fame spread throughout the world.
After the solemn prayers, the monks pass exams for higher dignity. On the last day of the holiday, which always falls on the full moon, make 15 figures of ghee, depicting the wonders of the Buddha. They are displayed for viewing in datsans.
This holiday is dedicated to the incarnation of Maitreya Buddha at the end of time. His rule is associated with the blessed era of prosperity and bliss, when people on earth will live 84 thousand years.
Many pilgrims flock to Maidari Khural to monasteries. A sculpture of Buddha Maitreya is brought out of the temples, which is erected on an ornate chariot. Accompanied by numerous believers, the procession slowly walks around the walls of the monastery in the direction of the movement of the sun. This event is reflected in the name of the festival - Circulation of Maitreya Buddha.
The ceremony is often interrupted by reading sutras and ritual tea parties, so it lasts all day. At the end, a table is set with plentiful treats, gifts are brought to the monastic community.
Some researchers believe that the roots of the ritual action of the TsAM should be sought in ancient shamanistic rites. It was introduced into the temple practice of northern Buddhism by the great teacher Padmasambhava (VIII century). Mystery is especially common in Mongolian, Buryat, Tibetan monasteries.
The rite is a pantomime performed by llamas in frightening masks of Dokshits (guardians). The characters play a ritual action, performing a dance in a circle, gesturing with their hands. The mystery performed annually has several objectives:
- to frighten and alienate evil spirits from the followers of Buddhism;
- demonstrate the triumph of true dogma;
- show the presence of a deity in the visible world;
- prepare a person for visions in the afterlife wandering that accompany him on the path to rebirth.
The mission of fulfilling the Tsam is entrusted to the monks who received special initiation. A few days before the start of the mystery, they fast and plunge into deep meditation.
Teach wheel rotation
The most important holiday in Buddhism, celebrated on the fourth day of the sixth lunar month. Marks the day of the first sermon of Buddha Shakyamuni in the Indian province of Sarnath. The first teachings from the mouth of the Buddha were heard by five ascetics, who later became his loyal disciples.
The main event of the celebration is a walk around the temple with a sculpted image of Maitreya Buddha, which is accompanied by reading special sutras and playing ritual musical instruments. The spiritual task of the ceremony is to bring the period of the reign of Maitreya Buddha closer.Dalai Lama
Dalai Lama's Birthday
The list of Buddhist holidays will be incomplete without mentioning the memorable date, the only one calculated on the solar calendar. Every year on July 6, northern Buddhists celebrate the birthday of their spiritual leader in the exile of the Dalai Lama XIV. The fate of this amazing person is a living illustration of a Buddhist creed. He is considered the last physical embodiment of the Buddha of Compassion.
His predecessor left an indication of where to look for his rebirth. It was there after the death of the Dalai Lama XIII that a search group of monks went. A 2-year-old boy, Tenzin Gyatso, born in a poor peasant family, was found by special signs that identify the new reincarnation of the Dalai Lama.
Then a series of special tests followed, during which the boy had to find a thing that belonged to him in a previous life. Having successfully passed the test, on February 22, 1940 he was elevated to the throne of the Dalai Lama.
This is only a fraction of the great collection of holidays and rituals that exist in Buddhism. Lesser celebrations are dedicated to deities, saints, and patrons, revered by individual schools, monasteries, and communities.