Friday, April 8, 2011

April 8th- Buddha's Birthday (Buddhism)

Although Buddha's birthday is celebrated on different dates throughout Buddhism-practicing countries, Japan celebrates it every year on April 8th because they have adopted the Gregorian calendar. The exact year that Buddha was born is debatable, but most agree that it was between the years of 563-483 BCE. Buddha's Birthday is a day of great celebration throughout Asia boasting parades full of musicians, dancers, floats, and dragons. People hang lanterns in streets and enjoy communal meals. The Japanese refer to  Buddha's birthday as Hana Matsuri, meaning "Flower Festival" because they venture to the temples bringing offerings of fresh spring flowers, especially cherry blossoms. 

One widely spread tradition for Buddha's Birthday that is found in most schools of Buddhism is the washing of the baby Buddha. According to legend, when Buddha was born, he took seven steps and declared, "I alone am the World-Honored One". He then pointed up with one hand and down with the other, which symbolized that he would unite heaven and earth. It is said that the seven steps represent seven directions: north, south, east, west, up, down, and here. The tradition of washing the baby Buddha honors this moment. The process begins with a statue of the baby Buddha being placed on a stand inside an elevated basin. People come up to the alter and pour water or tea on the tiny figurine with a ladle to symbolically wash the baby Buddha. 

Hanging Lanterns in the Streets

The Washing of the Baby Budhha


1 comment:

  1. A time honored tradition with a long and intricate history. Thank you for sharing this holiday with me. Looking forward to your next post!