As much as we know about our own culture and festivals, Its fascinating to be a part of another one, which at times is way too different from what you have learnt and experienced all your life. Even though traditions and rituals are miles apart from one another, the only thing I am sure of now is the fact, that what binds as humans all over the world is one simple word – “Compassion”. Being here at the Dalai Lama temple, right in time of ‘Sakadawa’ the holiest and the biggest day in Tibetan Buddhism, as much as I was curious to learn all about it, it was also the friends I made from all over the world, who wanted to be a part of the day with full passion. Simply to celebrate each phase of Buddha’s life, for all those who are reading this post and are still unaware…here is a glimpse of the celebrations captured from a very inquisitive camera…
Recognized as the most sacred of Buddhist holidays, Saka Dawa, also the holiest day in the Tibetan culture, once again was celebrated with soulful dedication this year on 25th May. Traditionally held on the Full moon day (15th Lunar Day) of the 4th Lunar month of the Tibetan Calendar, the day finds its significance with the celebration of three great events in the life of Shakyamuni Buddha altogether – his birth in Lumbini, his enlightenment during a full moon night in the city of Bodhgaya and parinirvana (death) in the city of Kushinagar. While ‘Dawa’ in Tibetan means ‘month’, ‘Saka’ is the name of the star, one of the 28 Major stars used in Tibetan astrology calculations, which is closest to the earth and thus most prominent at this time of the year.
Observed with a special puja by the monks in the monastery that is conducted early in the morning, according to tradition everyone accumulates to promise together to avoid the ten virtues of Tibetan Buddhism that include killing and harming others, stealing, sexual contact, lying, slandering, saying painful words, talking uselessly, having bad thoughts, being involved in wrong beliefs and alternatively to practice the opposite of each.
Also known as the vegetarian month by many today, Tibetan Buddhists, be it the monks, nuns, or the general population from Tibet and Tibetans in exile from all over the world, took a day off from work, to perform purifications and merit accumulation activities. As it is believed that the merit of any good deed that one performs this month is multiplied as much as one hundred million times and over, followers make it a point to refrain from eating meat, offer donations and money to the needy, pray and recite mantras, make prostrations, lighting butter lamps, setting animals free and also circumambulate around stupas and other holy places.
While the monks performed this religious ceremony, other people were found reciting the six syllables mantra (Om Mani Padme Hum) and make prostrations throughout the day in order to show their respect to lord Buddha.