In the morning, I got up early and made the cashew curry I wanted to take to the temple. Today, they were holding what is known as the Kathina ceremony, which marks the end of the Rainy Season Retreat. The tradition is for the monks to remain at their respective temples during the rainy season (or, at least, what was the traditional rainy season in India); any travel during this season is highly restricted and alms are generally brought to the temple by the devotees. The monks observe this Rainy Season Retreat during the same time of the year, and have kept the tradition even when they moved to other countries, even if the rainy season in those countries differed from the rainy season in India (something my daughter questioned when she was a child and was most dissatisfied with the answer she received from the monk she questioned, that it was the custom! She has a very logical mind and this answer made no sense to her. :D)
|Buddha Statue in the Courtyard|
Tradition is to have chantings of blessing the night before, followed by a processional around the neighborhood in the morning and the offering of alms, a special robe, and lunch to the monks and all the devotees and participants in attendance. I didn't wait for the whole ceremony, which will go on until afternoon, but I went in time to see the processional.
|Some of the Sunday School students who have learned to play the traditional drums|
|The drummers leading the processional|
|The temple relics being carried on the head of one of the devotees|
The umbrellas are known as "Pearl Umbrellas" or "muthu kuda" as they are traditionally decorated with pearls and one of the special features of this type of processional.
The flags are Buddhist flags, featuring what are known as the Buddhist colors; each color has a significance.
|The Principal Monk of the Temple leading the monks|
|Procession of Monks with devotees following|
The procession is supposed to bless the neighborhood.
The monks were very happy to see me and even though I didn't stay for the rest of the ceremony, they tied a strand of blessed thread on my right wrist (usually tied on the right wrist, not the left). The blessed thread is formed of three strands of thread (to represent the three "jewels" of the Buddha, the Dhamma or Doctrine, and the Sangha or the disciples/monks) which are interwoven at intervals, which is held by everyone while blessings are chanted; the soundwaves of the chanting is supposed to be absorbed by the thread, and it becomes a visual reminder of the blessings that protect us. The monks gave me another piece of the blessed thread to keep and give to my daughter on her next visit home.
|The Blessed Thread on my right wrist|
I feel very blessed to have been able to participate in today's Kathina ceremony at the temple, even in a very limited way, today. It was more than what I was able to do last year.
If you have any questions, please feel free to ask; I will try to answer them to the best of my ability.
Thank you so much for sharing this ceremony and including photos! I enjoyed reading about it and appreciated the time you took to share. Thanks again. I have difficulty signing into my google account so will sign below but show up as anonymous... H OltmanReplyDelete
It was my pleasure. Thank you for commenting.Delete
How lovely to see all your photos of the beautiful processional, and how pleasing to know that it was blessing the neighbourhood. I find that it reminds me of my time in Vienna, living in a district that was full of reminders of those who died in the Holocaust. Every year the Catholic church has a Corpus Christi procession through the streets, which also blesses the neighbourhood, and to my thinking, continually reclaims it from the evil of the past. We need more processions of blessing everywhere!ReplyDelete
Thank you, Bushlady. There is a Catholic church in my neighborhood ("Our Lady of the Holy Rosary") which holds a similar procession every Easter. It is a bigger event than the one at the temple, with roads being closed to traffic, etc. You are right - we need more processions of blessings! :)Delete
Time is a great measure of things isn't it Bless. Being able to attend the procession makes you realise how far you've come in the past 12 months.ReplyDelete
It's interesting to read about the meaning behind the procession and I think it's very thoughtful of the monks to give you a piece of blessed thread for your daughter.
I notice the devotees wearing a lot of white. Is there any meaning behind this? xx
Yes, it is good to look back and see how far I've come, especially when I feel like I haven't made enough progress. :)Delete
It is traditional to wear white to temple or Buddhist religious events. White represents purity and it is a form of non-adornment and lack of finery that might otherwise be a distraction. White is also our color for mourning, not black.
I have to echo the thanks for sharing this. I love learning a bit about other religions and cultures. The neighborhood blessing is probably my favorite since neighborhoods cover such a wide assortment of people and goodness knows everyone needs blessings.ReplyDelete
You are most welcome, Anne. I sometimes wonder how much I should share, but I think the more we know about one another, the more understanding there will be. We are all in need of blessings, aren't we?Delete
Very interestiing to learn about your faith. Can you explain a little more about the temple relics?ReplyDelete
Good to look back and see how far you have come. May you continue to grow stronger each day.
Thank you, Sandy.Delete
The relics are supposed to be portions of the remains of the Buddha (a tooth, bone fragment, hair, etc.) Each temple has a small relinquary, but, since the Buddha was cremated when he died, I am not sure just how many authentic relics there might be. But Buddhists honor and pay homage to the relics that are in the relinquary as if they are an authentic relic of the Buddha.
Keep sharing. I love learning about your religious practices.ReplyDelete
Thank you, Live and Learn.Delete
Thanks so much for sharing this with us! The photos are really beautiful. It looks like a wonderful ceremony. I'm always interesting in learning about other traditions.ReplyDelete
Thank you, Sharon.Delete
Thank you for sharing this special ceremony with us. My brother is a former Buddhist Monk and still is a practicing Buddhist. He has tried to explain some of the ceremonies to me, but you do it in a way that I can much better understand. Thank you!ReplyDelete
You are welcome, Debbie. I remember you mentioning your brother was Buddhist, earlier, too. There are several Buddhist sects and some ceremonies differ from sect to sect, but the basic tenets are the same, I believe.Delete