Buddhist festivals

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  • 1.Wesak

2. Wesak is the Therevadin festival that takes place on the Full moon of themonth of Vesakha (May), to celebrate the BirthEnlightenment, and deathof the Buddha. 3. Light is an important symbol of Wesak some Buddhists thinkof the Buddha and histeachings as a lightthat illuminates thedarkness of Samsara and of course there is the idea ofenlightenment! 4. Lights are offered toimages of the Buddha, asa symbol of theenlightenment that he achieved, and to which every Buddhist aspires. 5. In many Therevadin Countries, people celebrate by lighting special lanterns, andhanging them fromtheir houses, or taking them on parades. 6. Special, floodlit processionstake place. 7. This floatcommemorates the BuddhasEnlightenment. 8. Buddhists maySomecircumambulatethem carryingViharas arelanterns to brightlysymbolise theirdesire to be illuminatedenlightened, andto keep theBuddha at thecentre of theirlives. 9. Some Buddhists perform a simple ritual of washing a Baby Rupa,to symbolise welcoming the Buddha after his birth. 10. Wesak is a time whenthe laity make aspecial effort to givedonations to the bhikkus. 11. As well as the normal offerings offood, it is traditional to give specialcandles, as symbolsof the Buddhasenlightenment. 12. Lay buddhists also express their determination by taking on the extra five precepts that areusually only taken by Bikkhus for the duration of Wesak! 13. Wesak is seen asan important day to study the dharma so people will read texts, attendlectures, and visit their localtemple. 14. Some Buddhists markWesak by taking partin merit- makingactivitiesdemonstratingcompassion to allbeings. 15. The three month rainy seasonretreat. 16. The Buddha preached his firstsermon to fiveascetics in the deer park at Varanasi. This iscommemorated onDhamma Day when bikkhus chant the Dhamma CakkaSutta the text of the first sermon.This marks thebeginning of Vassa the three month longrainy season retreat. 17. The first viharas wereestablished in the Buddhastime for the bikkhus to restin during the monsoonrains. It was seen as an opportunity to reflect,study and meditateintensively. This is still the case, and Vassa is animportant time for bikkhus. 18. Venerable ones, I invite reprimand from the Sangha. According to what has been seen, heard or suspected of my actions, may the Venerable ones correct me out of theircompassion. Recognising it is my fault, Ishall make amends The end of Vassa ismarked by Pavarana day,when the bikkhus reflecton their behaviour during the rains retreat. This isan opportunity to getstrained relationships out in the open! 19. During Vassa the Bikkhus and the Laity have had littleto do with one another. The end of Vassa is markedby a festival of Unity called Kathina. The Bikkhus are congratulated on their retreat, as it is believed thatthey have created merit for the whole community. Lay believers give the Bikkhus new robes, and other essentials for the Vihara. 20. Giving robes to the Sangha is a greatsource of Merit forthe donors. 21. Uposatha days. Uposatha days happen on the full andnew moons. The Bikkhus gather together to chant the 227 Patimokkharules of the Sangha. This is seen as anopportunity for Bikkhus to recommit themselves to their lifestyle, and toclarify the mind.