Date 30/08/2015

VISKHA PUJA DAY



VISKHA PUJA DAY
 
Translated by Mr Thanapol (Lamduan) Chadchaideeand Mr Marco Racintini
Meaning
Visakha Puja Day falls on the 15th day of the full moon in the 6th lunar month. This day commemorates the Buddha’s birth, attainment of Enlightenment and death.

Significance

Since the three major events, namely the Buddha’s birth, attainment of Enlightenment and death, coincidentally occurred on the same day and in the same month, the day is considered as significant to
all Buddhists. The main Buddhist principles to be observed on this day are Gratefulness (Katanyuta),
the Four Noble Truths (Ariyasachcha) and Heedfulness (Appamata).

Backgroud

1. Life of the Buddha

The Buddha was born as a prince on Friday morning of the 15th day of the full moon in the 6th lunar month around 623 B.C. in the Lumpini Park on the dorder of Kapilvastu and Devataha Cities in Sakka State which is now part of Nepal. The Prince later left his worldly life in search for the means of salvation. After six years of radical asceticism, he achieved Enlightenment or Uruvelasenanikom in Magha State (now in Buddhakaya of Bihar State, India). Feeling compassion for all beings, the Buddha decided to preach his message of salvation to all people without discrimination. After 45 years of theis strenous and selfless life, the Buddha passed away at Kusinara when he was 80 years old.
2. Observance of Visakha Puja Day in Thailand

The religious ceremony on Visakha Puja Day dates back to the Sukhothai Period. It was assumed that the practice was undertaken due to Ceylonese influence. Around B.E. 420, King Phatikaraj of Ceylon performed a grand ceremony on Visakha Puja Day in dedication to the Buddha. This ceremony had also been observed by later King of Ceylon. The Ceylonese today still celebrate Visakha Puja Day.
During the Sukhothai period, Siam and Ceylon enjoyed harmonious relations, especially religious ties, as many Ceylonese monks came to propagate Buddhism in Siam. The ceremony on Visakha Puja Day is believed to have been introduced by these monks. A book written by Lady Noppamas (Chief Royal Consort at the Court of a Sukhothai King) described the atmosphere on Visakha Puja Day. She writes:
"On Viskha Puja Day, the king led his royal attendants and the entire citizenry of Sukhothai to clean and decorate their capital with flowers, fragrant objects and lights that illuminated the whole capital in dedication to the triple Gems for three days and noghts, On this auspicious occasion, the king and members of the royal family observed the precepts and made merit. In the evening, the king, accompanied by members of the royal family, royal attendants and other officials, went to the royal temple to preside at the ceremony of a Candlelit Proession. The people of Sukhothai, at the same time, observed the precepts, listened to a sermon, made merit and offered food to monks and novices. People also made donations to the poor, the orphans, the impoverished, the aged and the cripples, while some bought animals, such as tortoise and fish to set free as people believed it was a means to lengthen their lifespan.”




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