Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation

Jan 17th
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Home Feature Stories Buddha Day Ceremony Tzu Chi Celebrates Buddha’s Birthday Around the World

Tzu Chi Celebrates Buddha’s Birthday Around the World

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On Sunday, the Tzu Chi foundation celebrated the birthday of the Buddha and its own anniversary at ceremonies around the world. More than 260,000 people took part in 285 events in 32 countries and regions. “We remember that, over 2,500 years ago, Sakyamuni Buddha was born,” said Master Cheng Yen in a speech to mark the day. “It was because such a being came into this world that the world’s suffering beings are able to find the path to awakening, so that we can now walk correctly in this direction.”

In Hualien, the headquarters of the foundation, the ceremony was held early in the morning. At five o’clock, while the sky was still dark, people began to wait outside the imposing Jing Si Hall. At seven, its large doors swung open.  Nuns who live with Master Cheng Yen conducted the Buddha day ceremony, with the Master herself watching the proceedings from the fourth floor. The ceremony was held in an atmosphere of reverence and solemnity.

The biggest event was held at the Chiang Kai-shek memorial in central Taipei, where nearly 40,000 people participated; they included President Ma Ying-jeou, Prime Minister Wu Den-yih, foreign diplomats, heads of major Taiwan companies, senior monks and nuns and people from all walks of life, including the military, police officers, firemen, taxi drivers and those who make cosmetics. The main event was held after dark, creating a dramatic visual effect; the blackness of the sky contrasted with the blue and white uniforms of the volunteers and the sparkling white pools which contained small statues of the Buddha. The participants took turns to bow and dip fingers in the water, taking hold a small bud of the flower and holding their palms together. The dipping of the fingers in the water symbolized touching the feet of the Buddha; the fragrance of the water, a symbol of the virtue of the Buddha remained with the participant, in the same way that he hopes the virtue of the Buddha will rest in his heart. The ceremony was meticulously arranged and also conducted with solemnity and reverence.

Other ceremonies to wash the Buddha were held by volunteers around the world, including Hong Kong, mainland China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, the United States and Bolivia.

The Second Sunday in May
The second Sunday in May marks the birthday of the Buddha, the Tzu Chi foundation and Mother’s Day. The foundation was founded on March 24, 1966, according to the lunar calendar; but, on its 30th birthday in 1996, this anniversary was changed to the second Sunday in May, so that Global Tzu Chi Day would fall on the same day as the other two important dates. In 2000, the government of Taiwan designed the second Sunday in May as Buddha Day in Taiwan.

For the foundation, the day has many meanings – to promote reverence: promote gratitude to parents and teacher: promote compassion and giving yourself to others. “Others’ suffering awakens us and makes us feel we are very blessed,” in the words of Master Cheng Yen. “Only when people feel they are blessed can they truly be happy and have a blessed life. Given that there is so much suffering in the world, we are truly fortunate to be someone who has the capacity to help. We are also fortunate because we have many people who share our ideals and unite with us to carry them out. To celebrate the Buddha’s birthday, we have many solemn commemorations to express our reverence toward the Buddha. But the truest and most earnest appreciation and reverence for the Buddha is to consider every day as his birthday. We should always treat others with gratitude, respect and love.

'The Buddha has unsurpassed wisdom and compassion and his views are very different from us ordinary beings. We are usually caught in mundane ways of thinking which throw our minds into confusion and chaos and bring us suffering and misery. The Buddha, however, has awakened to the ultimate truth and is able to see things as they truly are. He then devoted the rest of his life to sharing these truths with all, so that we, the unenlightened, can see through our delusions and transcend our afflictions to come out of suffering and walk the same path as the Buddha to enlightenment.”

05/09/2010 Celebrating Buddha Day, Mother's Day, and Tzu Chi Day


The Beauty of the Jing Si Abode


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