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Thread: Buddha's birthday 8 April ?

  1. #1

    Buddha's birthday 8 April ?

    I would like to know more about the Mahayana feast of the Buddha's Birthday, as we are approaching 8 april ( or was it 8 May)
    There are different birthdays as there are different schools, for Japan I read :

    In Japan, Buddha's Birthday is also celebrated according to the Buddhist calendar but is not a national holiday. On this day, all temples do celebratory events/festivals called Kanbutsu-e (Japanese: ???), ??? (Goutan-e), ??? (Busshou-e), ??? (Yokubutsu-e), ??? (Ryuge-e), ??? (Hana-eshiki) or ??(Hana-matsuri, meaning 'Flower Festival'). The first event was held at Asuka-dera in 606. Japanese people pour ama-cha (a beverage prepared from a variety of hydrangea) on small Buddha statues decorated with flowers, as if bathing a newborn baby.
    How does the Soto school celebrates this ?

    Gassho

    Ensho

  2. #2

    Re: Buddha's birthday 8 April ?

    Hi Govert,

    Unlike much of the rest of Buddhist Asia, it is not a particularly celebrated holiday here for the general public. In temples, ceremonies are performed to commemorate the day. Maybe some local temples will have a street fair with music, dance performances and the like.

    Gassho, J

  3. #3

    Re: Buddha's birthday 8 April ?

    Just of intrest, PBS is showing its new picture "The Buddha" on April 7, 9pm eastern time. Did not realize the significance of the date till Jundo's post. Not sure if PBS is available in other countries, however a trailer of this picture is at pbs.org/thebuddha.

    Here is their summary of the program. The DVD is also avaiable through PBS.

    The Buddha, A Film by David Grubin
    Premiering April 7, 2010 at 8 p.m. EST (check local listings)

    This documentary for PBS by award-winning filmmaker David Grubin and narrated by Richard Gere, tells the story of the Buddha’s life, a journey especially relevant to our own bewildering times of violent change and spiritual confusion. It features the work of some of the world’s greatest artists and sculptors, who across two millennia, have depicted the Buddha’s life in art rich in beauty and complexity. Hear insights into the ancient narrative by contemporary Buddhists, including Pulitzer Prize winning poet W.S. Merwin and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Join the conversation and learn more about meditation, the history of Buddhism, and how to incorporate the Buddha’s teachings on compassion and mindfulness into daily life.

  4. #4

    Re: Buddha's birthday 8 April ?

    Thank you. Queued.

  5. #5

    Re: Buddha's birthday 8 April ?

    Our local English newsletter here in Tsukuba Japan had a little article on this today ...

    With all the excitement over the Sakura (cherry trees), it is easy to forget that early April, is the time to celebrate The Birth Of The Buddha. Traditionally, this was celebrated on the 8th day of the fourth month, according to the old lunar-solar calendar(which would usually be sometime in May), but since Japan adopted the Western Calendar in 1873, it has come to be observed about a month earlier, on April 8th (since the calendar changed April has become the 4th month in Japan). This has moved the Buddha`s Birthday celebrations smack into the middle of the cherry blossom season (giving it some very stiff competition for attention), and that is probably why the name of the ceremony was changed as well- from the traditional Kanbutsu- e (???) , or Bussho-e (???), to Hana-Matsuri(???), which literally means THE FLOWER FESTIVAL. Another reason for the name change at that time, was that during the Meiji Period (1868-1912) with its revived nationalism, Buddhism, with its non-Japanese origins had come under attack, and the new name gave the festival a little more of a pure JAPANESE ring (since HANA in fact refers specifically to cherry blossoms, the symbol of Japan and The Japanese Spirit).

    So in this season, at many temples across Japan ( and of course, in Tsukuba as well), you will find small pavillion or gazebo-like structures set up in clear view. These are called HANA-MI-DO (???), and they are usually heavilly decorated with colorfull flowers. The small Buddha ( O-Shaka-Sama, or Shaka-??, in Japanese) figures, used for this occassion is distintive. It represents the Buddha at birth, standing upright, one hand pointing to the sky and the other to the ground, and is called a Tanjo-Butsu (???).

    This specific pose is based on one particular legend related to the Buddha`s birth, in Lumbini, which tells of how when he was just born, he took seven steps, pointed simultaneously to heaven and earth, and declared- TENJO TENGA YUI GA DOKUSON- ????????- (I alone rule Heaven and Earth!)

    It is then said, according to the same story, that a heavenly dragon , in celebration of the birth, made it rain sweet, fragrant water and flowers. That is why it is the custom, to this day, to cover the small pavillion with flowers and to pour AMACHA (literally sweet tea ) over the Tanjo-Bustu Statue, usually three times.

    There are records showing that in Japan this custom dates back to at least the time of Empress Suiko (592-628), but it probably began much earlier still.

    Before the Second World War, the Hana-Matsuri was a major event in the villages around which The Tsukuba Science City was eventually built. In old Sakura Mura, there were festivities held for a week, with the local youth organization (Seinen-Kai) playing traditional flutes and drums late into the night.Children would gather all types of flowers, in bundles, to be placed on, in and around the Hana-Mi-Do. This year ony a handful of temples in Tsukuba will be holding quiet services( though most will have their Birth-Buddha pavillions on display, with amacha available for anyone who would like to commemorateShaka-Sama`s birthday.

    In the past,April 8th, was also a day of compassion, and farmers refrained from work as it might involve the killing of insects or animals.

    These days The Hana-Matsuri, a kind of Buddhist Christmas, has been all but forgotten by the general public. If you have time. you might want to drop by your local temple tomorrow and pour some AMACHA over the Birth-Buddha`s head. If you like you can drink some of the tea, as well, though I can tell you from experience, it is not very tasty.




  6. #6

    Re: Buddha's birthday 8 April ?

    I just had a chance to see this, and felt it a lovely, simple, mostly "down to earth" introduction to the Buddha's life and Teachings. I felt the message and perspectives of the commentators and narrative very consistent with "the Buddhism" presented around here.

    I think it is available online in some regions. Catch it if you have the time.

    Next ... I will try to watch the BBC version!

    Gassho, J

    Quote Originally Posted by lorax
    Just of intrest, PBS is showing its new picture "The Buddha" on April 7, 9pm eastern time. Did not realize the significance of the date till Jundo's post. Not sure if PBS is available in other countries, however a trailer of this picture is at pbs.org/thebuddha.

    Here is their summary of the program. The DVD is also avaiable through PBS.

    The Buddha, A Film by David Grubin
    Premiering April 7, 2010 at 8 p.m. EST (check local listings)

    This documentary for PBS by award-winning filmmaker David Grubin and narrated by Richard Gere, tells the story of the Buddha’s life, a journey especially relevant to our own bewildering times of violent change and spiritual confusion. It features the work of some of the world’s greatest artists and sculptors, who across two millennia, have depicted the Buddha’s life in art rich in beauty and complexity. Hear insights into the ancient narrative by contemporary Buddhists, including Pulitzer Prize winning poet W.S. Merwin and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Join the conversation and learn more about meditation, the history of Buddhism, and how to incorporate the Buddha’s teachings on compassion and mindfulness into daily life.

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