Vesak Poya Day at Mahamewnava in Basildon 2014
Vesak is undoubtedly the most significant date in the Buddhist calendar, celebrated in all branches of Buddhism and in all parts of the world. It signifies the Birth, enlightenment and passing away of the Lord Buddha and falls on the full moon day of the month of May.
This year I had the experience of celebrating this momentous day at Mahamewnava International Meditation Centre in Basildon in a rather different manner.
Vesak day programme was held on the 14th May, full moon day or the Vesak Poya day.
The day began early, with the observation of the eight precepts and the ‘Kiri Pindu Puja’. Kiri Pindu, which translates directly as ‘milk rice’, is a special dish that is prepared in a way representing the devotion of Sujãtha, the beautiful yet barren aristocrat. It is said that Sujãtha partook in a ‘Baara’ where she bade the nymphs of the forest to grant her a child, in return for which she would offer a special Puja. On the birth of her first child she fulfilled her promise and prepared a dish of delicious and fragrant sweet milk rice, the Kiri Pindu. Coincidentally the Puja was offered at dawn on the day when Prince Siddhartha would attain enlightenment under the Holy Bhodi tree at Buddha Gaya. Sujãtha, believing the Gautama ascetic to be a god of a mighty tree, serene in meditation, offered her dish to him. To commemorate the last alms offered to Siddhartha Gauthama, before his enlightenment, we too offer our Kiri Pindu puja on Vesak morning.
Offering of Kiri Pindu Puja was followed by Dhamma sermons and discussions as well as meditation sessions for all involved. The afternoon saw large numbers of devotees taking part in the ‘Sarwanğa Dhathu Wandana’. The devotion taken to prepare this Puja was truly awe-inspiring, with everything from the Puja Baanda and Buddha Aura to the stringed Jasmin flowers and flower arrangements being made by hand on the day. The Puja included items such as honey, Ayurweda medicine and ‘Chathu Madura’, a mousse like honey dessert. The items were carried in a glorious procession through the Temple gardens and into the shrine room.
The ceremony began with the welcoming of the gods to join us in worship and the honouring of the qualities of the Triple Gem. We then followed the story of the formation and division of the Buddha Dhathu between the Naga, Deva and human worlds through our chanting. This told of the various ways in which these sacred relics came to be entombed in the magnificent Chaitha of Sri lanka. With the passing on of merit, the Vesak celebrations came to a close.
Despite the dissimilar features of this Vesak celebration, nightfall also illuminated numerous Vesak lanterns, depicting the significant events in the life of the Buddha and saw the lighting of the gardens with candles.