Vaishaka Day

“Just as when the Buddha was born the devas bathed him, just so with pure divine water we are bathed.”

That is the verse we recite when we take turns symbolically washing an image of the Buddha.   This is to celebrate the Buddhas birth – which is also celebrating our own birth as all beings have Buddha nature or Basic Goodness.  Vaishaka Day is one of the major holidays in the Buddhist calendar.  It is a celebration of birth of the Buddha.  It is celebrated on a the full moon in the fourth month (can be May or sometimes June).  The celebration also includes the Enlightenment and Death or Parinirvana of the Buddha.

What does that mean for the people who celebrate it?  It is often marked by a day of ‘cleanness’ where one wakes up early and meditates, cleans and then wears white and throughout the day practices right speech (which can be silence).  Other ways you can mark the day are refraining from eating meat.  Or if you are able renewing your refuge vows, the five precepts.  It is also a day to join together with ones community of buddhists (sangha).  A day to make as many offerings as you are able.  Offerings can consist of anything but most often are food and flowers which are then enjoyed as a group.   Vaishaka day is a day to listen to stories of the Buddhas life or teachings on meditation or how to live a good life and be agood human.  It is a family event and so the stories of the Buddhas previous lives as animals are often told to the children.  Because this is a holiday that is common to all Buddhist traditions is is sometimes one where many different sanghas come together to celebrate and meet each other.

There is a simple ceremony of ‘bathing the buddha‘ that we do in Shambhala to mark Vaishaka Day.

We make a container or mandala for a statue of the Buddha.  It can be on a stand and in a large bowl.  The bowl can have offerings of flowers and even floating lights.

Each person comes up and takes a dipper of clean water and pours it over the head of the Buddha as they recite the verse.  It is symbolic of the fact that we are all born pure and clean and have the same nature as Buddha and like the Buddha are able to be awake and enlightened in this life time.

How to be a Buddha is to pay attention to ones thoughts and actions so as to not create further harm.  It is a continual process of attention to ones body, speech and mind. The regular practice of meditation cultivates awareness of our thoughts and actions so that we can then choose what to accept and what to reject.


“Just as when the Buddha was born the devas bathed him, just so with pure divine water we are bathed.”



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