Religious Events In Myanmar






      It commemorates the New Year in Myanmar especially for the Buddhists. It is also known as the Water Festival as water splashing and sprinkling are the main outdoor activities of the young people in this very hot month. Older and more religious people engage in charitable deeds by offering meals (soon)to the monks and practising meditation. Young men and women also approach elderly persons to offer to wash and shampoo their hairs as it is regarded as a very good thing to do for the new year.

      ( Please click here for theThingyan article by the Mahasi Sayadaw )


By Ashin Thittila ( Aggamapandita )

      The most important of the Buddhist festivals is Vesakha. What is Vesakha? It is the name of an Indian month. the month of May, and was the month upon the full moon of which the Buddha was born, upon which he attained enlightenment and also upon which he passed away. The Buddhist festival, therefore, is called after the name of the month. In order to explain a little further, let me give you a summary of the Buddha's life,

      The Buddha's life is a remarkable story of unselfishness, service and great ideals. Born in India on the full moon of May 623 B.C., his name was Gotama. and his father, Suddhodana, was king of Kapilavatthu; his mother was Queen Maya .The birth of Gotama was accompanied by many omens such as the blind receiving sight, the deaf and dumb hearing and speaking, the crooked becoming straight and the lame walking; so the king invited to the palace a hermit Asita, who was famous in the kingdom not only for wisdom and scholarship, but also for his skill in interpreting signs. When Asita saw the royal child he laughed heartily, but then wept bitterly, and the king asked the reason for this. Asita replied that the omens indicated that the royal child would become the Buddha, bringing deliverance to the world, and this holy event overjoyed him. To explain his lamentation, Asita said that he was too old to live to see that happy event, and his end was drawing so near that he could not hold his tears.

      The king asked, 'What shall my son see to make him retire from the world?', to which Asita replied, 'The four signs'. The king queried further, 'What are the four signs?', to which Asita answered, 'An old man, a diseased man, a dead man and a mendicant (holy man)'. 'From this time forth', said the king. 'let no such person be allowed to come near my son. it will never do for my son to become a Buddha; what I would wish to see is my son exercising sovereign rule and authority over the four great continents'. He then placed guards for a distance of about a mile in each of the four directions, in order that none of these four kinds of men might come within the sight of his son.

      Thus Gotama spent his early years in ease, luxury and culture, seeing only what was beautiful and pleasant. In his twenty-ninth year. however, the truth dawned upon him, and he then decided to devote his life to the answering of three great questions: whence came we, why are we here and whither are we going? This decision came as the result of four remarkable occurrences, the four signs mentioned by Asita. which forced upon his attention the problems of age, sickness and death: 'Why do people grow old? he asked, but none could answer him. From whence comes sickness which deprives man from even temporary happiness; what is that cold silent form lying upon the couch of death: does the consciousness die there; is death the end of all things, or is it the, release, a door opening into a room beyond? Upon these problems the young prince contemplated deeply, but could find no answer until he became the Buddha. Then came the fourth occurrence, or sign; a mendicant, his face peaceful and calm, certain of freedom from old age, sickness and death, became revealed to the young prince. By the example of the holy mendicant the prince was shown that true happiness lay in peace and understanding.

      Inspired by the great need of his fellow beings, Prince Gotama crept silently from the palace at the age of twenty-nine, and leaving behind all the attachments of the world, including his wife and child, he wandered penniless and alone among the hills and valleys of India. asking all with whom he came in contact if they could shed light upon the mystery of human life. Always the answer was in the negative, the spiritual teachers and philosophers of his day, who could argue and philosophize on many things, being unable to answer what he earnestly sought. He mortified his body, attaining by his religious austerities great fame as a holy man as he fasted and wandered, gathering around him a number of disciples who worshipped him because of his untiring zeal and remarkable courage. Undermined by exposure. tormented by religious practices and suffering from malnutrition, at last his health broke down. He realized then that all his labours and self- persecution had produced nothing, and that he was no nearer the solution to his questions than when he dwelt in idleness in the palace of his father. Having thus realized the futility of self- mortification he started eating his food in a reasonable way again. but all his disciples immediately deserted him, saving that the great holy man had eaten like sinners did.

      Deserted and beset with uncertainties. Gotama wandered on and at last sat down beneath the spreading branches of the Bodhi Tree, where he determined to remain until he had fought out with himself the problems which beset him. Slowly, as the hours passed, through deep meditation his wisdom grew into its full power; his mind no longer beset with worries and problems, he clearly beheld the process of human existence, seeing both the causes of things and their remedies. It was here that Prince Gotama became the Lord Buddha --- on the full moon of Vesakha --- at the age of thirty-five.

      Perfect in wisdom, and free from the mists of illusion, he rose from his seat under the Bodhi Tree and went forth to preach the gospel of liberation. Passing to the old city of Benares he stopped at the little town of Saranath, where he found five of the disciples who had deserted him. He persuaded them to listen, and the Buddha preached his first sermon, those five disciples becoming the first followers of what later became the world's largest religion.

      For a period of forty-five years the Buddha preached the gospel of enlightenment, which he called the doctrine of the Dhamma, the philosophy of the middle path. He abolished extremes, the mortification of the body and self-indulgence, and instructed his disciples in a great moral philosophy which is as good today as when he first preached it over 2,500 years ago. He passed away at the age of eighty, on the full moon of Vesakha.

      In commemoration of these three holy events we celebrate the Vesakha Festival. ( By Ashin Thittila )


       It is also known as Waso Pwe Daw , Vassa Celebration or Asalha Puja. It is held on the full moon day of the Burmese calender month, Waso. This year it falls on a day in July.

      It commemorates (1) the Buddha's Great Renunciation of his palatial home and royal life, (2) his First Sermon made 2,500 years ago and (3) the beginning of the three-month Buddhist Lent (vassana period.)

      It is a special period for reflection and contemplation for the worshippers. The Buddha delivered the First Discourse ( Dhammacakkappavattana ) to the five ascetics who became the first Buddhist Monks and attained the Arahantship after receiving further discourses, establishing the Order of the Sangha.

      Monks have to return to their monasteries for spiritual retreat during the rainy season and they are not supposed to travel for at least three months. They are offered new robes by the worshippers for this rainy and often stormy period.

      There is another traditional celebration called Waso Pan Khu Pwe ( Waso Flower Collecting Festival ) . Young adolescents roam the mini-forests near their villages and towns to gather flowers of the season for offering at the local pagodas. It is an occasion for them to strike up acquaintance or to get to know more about each other.

      Many Buddhist parents also celebrate Novitiation procedures for their sons around this time of the year. Some adults become ordained monks and learn the Buddhist teachings to prepare themselves for the present and the future.

*The Discourse on Kathina*

(Myaung Mya Sayadaw)

The important one for Buddhist

      Today is an auspicious day because we have one of our Burmese festivals as a Kathina festival (Kathina ceremony). This ceremony is very important for Buddhist people. Because this is one kind of ceremony which should be celebrated on the base of Buddha's teaching. The other ceremonies in Burma are not all Buddhist ceremonies but communal one. This Kathina ceremony is specific one for the Monks' well-being and welfare. At the same time it is held for the welfare and well-being of Lay person also. Because this Kathina kamma is especially allowed and laid down by the Buddha in order to observe the Vinaya rules and at the same time in order to lift up some monastic disciplinary rules. It is very important to know for the Buddhists.

The difficulty of 30 Bikkhus

      In the Buddha's life time, as you know, some thirty monks called Bhadda Vaggiya were staying at a small town called Pava. Before observing of the Vassa they were expecting to see the Buddha and to listen to the Buddha's teaching (Dhamma). But unfortunately the observance day is quite close, too close to proceed to the Savatthi where the Buddha was staying. Because of that they had to stay at the small town of Pava throughout the three months of rains retreat, although they were keenly desirous of seeing the Buddha and listening to the Dhamma talk to express their attainment. But unfortunately they could not go directly to the Buddha's residential place, Jetavana Vihara at the town of Savatthi.

      These two towns of Savatthi and Pava are not so far from each other, according to Buddha's scripture only 45 yojana away. Then as soon as the Vassa over they proceeded, they set out for the Savatthi to see the Buddha. At that time the rainy season was not over at all. Very heavy rains were coming very often because of that the road and path were very dirty, and full of mud. At that time, all Bhikkhus had to carry away three robes along their journey, that is, wherever they travelled they had to carry these three robes without leaving any of them anywhere. Because of that they had to carry these robes altogether. Out of them, a double over robe called Sanghati is very heavy. On the way, due to the rain, due to the muddy situation they had to carry this burden of robes with difficulty. Therefore they were not happy on the way to Savatthi.

      Buddha's question

      Then when they arrived at Savatthi the Buddha usually asked all new comer Bikkhus, namely all visiting Bikkhus "what was attainment you got during the three months of rains retreat. What about your journey? Is it happy one or unhappy one?" These are usual questions. Then those monks, Bhadda vaggiya Bikkhus answered as follows.

      Allowing Kathina

      "Venerable Sir, we got some attainment of the higher state of Dhamma. But in our journey to Savatthi, to the presence of the Buddha we met great difficulty due to the rains and muddy situation. Another matter is that we have had to carry these robes wherever we have to go.

      So we were carefully carrying these robes in order not to be wet. Because of that we got somewhat difficulty". Then Buddha laid down O! Bikkhus in order to release from such an unhappy state, and from such a difficulty I allow you from today on Kathina robes. In order to hold Kathina ceremony you have to read Kammavaca and before the reading the Kammavaca you must choose one of the Samgha members. Then you should give the Kathinacivara to this entitled monk only. Then this entitled monk must read Kammavaca.

      Only then Kathina ceremony has been properly held. In this way Buddha allowed Kathinacivara and laid down some rules regarding Kathina civara. Therefore performance of Kathina kamma from that day on until our age the Kathina ceremony nearly every year had been held.

      By performance of the Kathina kamma some kinds of benefit, or result accrued to the Samgha, while the givers, or the donors of kathinacivara, also have the similar benefits as a result. Because of that everywhere, in every Buddhist country Kathina ceremony is being held every year.

Five benefits for the monk

      The five consequences are as follows;

      (1) Due to this Kathina Kamma, monk can leave any robe without unnecessarily carrying away when they travel.

      (2) Bikkhus are not usually allowed to go outside without asking for permission to go out from a present monk.

If he commits this rule he gets an offence. Now due to the Kathina he frees from such offences.

      (3) According to vinaya rules monks are not allowed to accept food for meals which are offered by unsuitable terms (Akapiya vohara). If they do so they are liable to get an offence (APATTI). Now due to this Kathina kamma they are free from such Apatti within five months until the full moon day of the Phagguna month (Tabaung la pye).

      (4) Before the laying down of Kathina Kamma monks are not allowed to keep extra robes for more than ten days without making Vinaya procedures such as Adhithana and Vikappana. If they violate this rule they are guilty with some offence. Now due to this Kathina Kamma they get Freedom from that rule within five months.

      (5) The Kathina robe should be offered with reference to the Samgha. It must be Samghika, the Samgha's possession. This type of requisite should be as usual shared with every present Samgha member. But in this respect of Kathina kamma, this robe is not necessary to be shared with all present monks except those who observed Vassa in this monastery without any break. These are the benefits gained by the Samgha. The similar results will accrue to the donors also.

Five benefits for the donors

      (1) They will be free from unhappy states throughout their lives. When they make a journey of whether short or long distance they won't be hampered by unnecessary preparation for their journey, but will furnished with all requirement and provisions.

(2)       They will have freedom from hindrances of any kind and they will get every inclination fulfilled.

(3)       They won't be affected by poison or obsession of any ill-treat spells etc.

(4)       Their possessions will never be spoiled or lost; they will be able to leave their belongings behind without any worry, that is, they will be safe.

(5)       The donors of the Kathina robe will always be fortunate their good wills ever be fufilled and they will be successful among many rivals. But many I remind you all of a great point. Whenever you cultivate wholesome deeds you should not allow yourself to be a prey of attachment.

      You should do meritorious deed only for the sake of merit but not for the sake of worldly results. Or otherwise your good action will be tainted by mental defect.

Offering of Kathina robe

      Venerable Sir. We are offering Kathina robe to the Samgha in order to hold Kathina ceremony by choosing entitled monk among the Samgha, according to Vinaya rules.

      May we attain happiness, peace and the cessation of all kinds of suffering because of this good deeds.

Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu!

Well done! Well done! Well done!

*KATHINA (robe-offering) CEREMONY*

(Historical and spiritual significance)

Venerable Dhammasami

( Delivered at SIBC Kathina ceremony of SIBC 26.10.97 )

      Today we have been engaged in a series of programme that are part of Kathina -robe - offering ceremony. It is important that we understand about what we are doing - in this particular case, about Kathina ceremony; to be aware of some thing we are undertaking is Buddhist way of doing things which is technically called ' Right understanding '. There is more chance for right Understanding when ' Right mindfulness ' is present.

      So today it is nothing but appropriate for us to reflect on the practice of Kathina - the Theravada traditional robe-offering ceremony.

      The word Kathina is Pali in origin. It means a frame used in sewing robes those days in India. However, before we talk about this Kathina let us look at some other monastic practices related to it so that we can understand Kathina robe-offering ceremony in a broader perspective.

Practice of Retreat

      Kathina robe-offering ceremony is necessarily a monastic one, supported by the generous devotees. It is essentially connected to the three months retreat that ends on 16th this month.

      We need to discuss about Buddhist Monastic Retreat as a background before we actually take on Kathina issue. Buddhist retreat came into existence as a result of complaint made by the people. Jaina monastic order was already practising this Vassana retreat practice before the Buddha made His follower bhikkhus to do the same. The people expected monks, both Buddhist and non-Buddhist, to stay in one place at least for a certain period. They complained that the monks were moving from place to place all the time without a permanent dwelling. During rainy season, the monks did damage the plants and crops. The Jaina monks and other mendicants observed a treat during rainy season staying in one place for a period. People were wondering why the disciples of the Buddha Gautama did not do so.

      This prompted the Buddha to lay down a rule that Buddhist monks should observe Retreat and stay in one place for three months. People wanted them to do that during rainy season and it became known as rainy retreat. But strictly speaking the three months retreat can now take place at any season - maybe in winter or summer, although almost all have been observed during rainy season according to meteoric calendar in India.

      The period is the same - three months. This practice has been mostly observed during rainy season because the people wanted the monks to do so in ancient India - that is mainly, as I said earlier, for agricultural reason. There were no high ways during the Buddha's time. One had to across farmlands to travel. Therefore, this practice has its relevance in that 6th century BC Indian society.

      Nevertheless, even in India at that time the approval of the three months retreat practice was by no means limited to the agriculturists. It was seen as a means to spiritual progress as well. That was why during the time of the Buddha itself, Bimbisara, the king of Magadha sent an envoy to the monks asking them to come and observe a retreat in his kingdom. But it happened to be in summer and the monks first didn't accept it. Instead they referred it to the Buddha, who then relaxed the rule by adding that a monk could make a retreat during summer provided it is the wish of the ruler of the land. Therefore, the monks can also observe this practice of retreat in any other seasons other than rainy one if there are circumstances we have just described.

      Before this rule was there, the monks including the Buddha Himself travelled around the year and they still did so for nine months after the rule was laid down. Travelling and meeting people at different places is a kind of missionary life that the Buddha envisaged. It helps the monks not to be attached to dwelling places and people. It enables them to render their service to as many as possible. It frees them from a huge burden of constructing, maintaining and developing a big temple or monastery. It helps the teachings to spread everywhere as they travelled. Travelling made them encounter with different cultures. It gave them an understanding of real nature of life. Roaming around empowers them to endure hard life. When you have to move from one place to another almost all the time, you do not gather things. You start gathering things only when you the idea to settle. Since they wander most of the time their way of thinking, their attitude towards life and their spiritual practices are very pragmatic, realistic and are based on facts.

      You can see now some development was taking place in monastic life. With this Retreat practice coming along, the monks got a bit comfortable shelter. The devotees who approach them can enjoy the opportunity of learning the Dhamma from the monks: they have regular and appropriate receivers in performing their act of generosity. Therefore, the benefit of the three months retreat is mutual. ( Samyutta Nikaya )

      I think that with the introduction of this Vassana practice, Buddhist monastic life came to balance its way of life. Brahmanism has secular lay life as its core while Jaina monastic life encouraged no shelter whatsoever such as a place for three months retreat. Buddhist Vassana practice could be viewed as middle way in this context.

      A monk can choose his own time to start Retreat. There are two commencing dates different from one another exactly a month. But he is entitled to receive Kathina-robe only if he starts his retreat with an earlier date -not the later one. This is quite important condition required of a monk to be entitled Kathina robe. Within three months retreat he must not break the rule of retreat by spending nights somewhere else without a valid reason consented in the Vinaya. If there is emergency reason to travel, he can do so even during the retreat.

      To make the offering of robe especially valid as Kathina-civara ( Kathina-robe) these two rules are much essential. Failing to comply with either of the two conditions will affect the validity of Kathina -robe. Invalid Kathina robe, of course has more to do with the monks than the devotees do. Though the devotees got the same merits whether the Kathina robe is considered valid or not, the monks will lose the advantages associated with Kathina.

      It means they will get the robe but he can not enjoy five relaxations on Vinaya rules that come necessarily with the validity of Kathina procedure. Once being offered a valid Kathina robe in this way during this particular one month's time the monks can remain without following five of the 220 disciplines -known as Vinaya sikkhapada for four months starting exactly a month after the end of the retreat. This is something about Retreat which is a precondition to Kathina - robe offering.

Invitation Ceremony

      The second important procedure that must be done before Kathina ceremony is " Invitation Ceremony "( Pavarana ). This is again purely monastic practice.

      Invitation means at the end of retreat the monks must get together and invite one another to point out at one's fault if they have seen it themselves or have heard from some one or are just in doubt. This would help them in purifying themselves. A bhikkhu has to be open to any criticism from his colleagues regarding his behaviour. He can not say " Is it your business ?" or " this is my life ".

      Being open was a way of life the Lord Buddha led. The monks have to be sensitive to a complain made by the people in order to win their respect and in order to encourage them to learn the Dhamma. They have to be sensitive towards the remarks made by their fellow monks. This , according to the Buddha, could maintain both unity and purity in the Buddhist Monastic Order. It could also help keep the monastic rules and regulations alive. It is a kind of check-and-balance system between individual bhikkhus as well as between the seniors and the juniors. This is exactly the core of Monastic discipline as much as of the Teachings.

      Every fortnight there has to be a meeting between the higher ordained ones, known as bhikkhu ( monks) or bhikkhuni ( nuns ) in the case of ordained female. In that kind of assembly, a learned monk recites the 220 rules to the monks. Before he recites there has to be a procedure of confession, which means every individual has to inform the Sangha of the offence he has committed. This kind of confession can clear him from 203 kinds of offences out of 220. Confession can psychologically relieve someone who has committed a grave evil like patricide. The story of King Ajatasattu who killed his father is an example. He could not sleep until he confessed his sin to the Buddha. Confession did not his sin away but practically relieved him from psychological burden.

      In being open to others the Buddha, He was the best example. At every fortnight meeting the Lord Buddha would start inviting anyone present there to point out his fault if any. He encouraged people to be open making Himself the subject of openness. That must be the reason why people felt so close to Him. They did respect Him for a reason. They spoke so openly their opinion to the Buddha. They knew well that the Buddha did not take their offence.

      Ven. Sariputta, the most important figure apart from the Buddha would ask the monks to point out his fault too. In this way, the invitation was to be offered by any monk present. Actually, what we call Arahant means the one who has no longer secret. He is perfectly open to anyone especially regarding his behaviour.

      The Buddha wanted his disciples, at least those who have been ordained, to be as close as possible in their spiritual quest helping one another along the way. The only way of doing it and maintaining it is to practice to become increasingly open to each other that we no longer have anything to hide. Public morality can be maintained in this way. Therefore, we can say that monastic life is where one has least privacy.

      This Invitation Ceremony is so important ceremonially as well as spiritually. Without this there can not be a proper Kathina robe -offering; it may become only ordinary robe - offering with whatsoever no advantage on the part of the monks themselves.

      The two ceremonies, the ceremony of Invitation and that of offering robe, mark the termination of the Retreat.

Kathina Ceremony

      Now let us pick up our main topic " Kathina ." We may well imagine a situation during 6th BC where any advanced textile technology hardly known to the people. The monks had no choice but to do the sewing the robe and giving it a dye themselves. The Buddha asked them to help one another using the best technique then available. Some made a frame while some went out in search of needle and thread. Some sew pieces of clothe to make it a robe while others prepared for another process of making fire and getting a suitable colour ready. Dying a robe was extremely difficult because they had to boil the bark of the tree to get the colour they wanted. Just imagine how the monks were busy to get a robe done. It was a hard life collecting pieces of cloth from different places such as rubbish-heap, cemetery, and streets to get it sufficient for a robe. Ordinary life was at that time reasonably hard especially regarding clothes; the monks were no exception ; they had to struggle for a robe.

      But this became a kind of practice that trained monks to depend on themselves , to live in simple way creating no burden to the lay community and to be content with basic needs.

      Though we could say that this practice would reflect the economic reality in India those days , when the Lord Buddha declared this practice it was automatically adopted as a social norm among the followers. Those monks with well-to-do family and royal family background were no exception. They all adopted the practice. As we all know the majority of the immediate disciples of the Buddha came from either royal families or families of noble background. They were in comfort to ignore this practice of making a robe in such a difficult process. Instead, they took it as a way of life with a great honour. This humbleness and contentment clearly indicate high spiritual achievement.

      The Buddha recommended this practice to be observed at the end of the Retreat because monks can still be found in a large number in one place at this time and they could help one another.

      Once entitled to Kathina robe a bhikkhu is permitted to ignore some five minor rules. The relaxation is mainly felt on travel and invitation for alms-giving. Normally a bhikkhu, senior, or junior has to inform his fellow bhikkhu living in the same temple before he goes out. He can choose not to do it when he has received Kathina robe. Usually he has to carry all the three pieces of robe wherever he goes. He can now leave one behind if he wishes after he has been offered Kathina robe. He certainly has less restriction on travel. He can also accept as many robes if offered during the period of four months. Monks on the usual occasions are not supposed to accept food offered by someone using the terms of layman culture, the words normally employed by people in their social interaction. But once offered Kathina robe(s) a bhikkhu can receive such food given to him in that way.

      This Kathina ceremony is , as far as I can see , recommended by the Lord Buddha mainly for the welfare of the Sangha - the community of monks. The Lord Buddha did take into consideration how the Order He founded could survive. After the Mahaparinibbana ( the great passing away ) of the Buddha Himself , the whole responsibility of both perpetuation and propagation of His Teachings would certainly fall on the Sangha. Therefore, the continuity of the Sangha means the continuity of the Dhamma itself. Moreover, after His Mahaparinibbana, we could see the Buddha Himself only once we see, understand and realise the Dhamma. This was the case even when the Buddha was still alive for He declared that one really sees Him only once one sees the Dhamma. Now we can see the logic behind the recommendation of this Kathina ceremony - how it is important for the cause of Buddhism itself.

      The Buddha did not start preaching to every one before He had had the Monastic Order well established. After His Enlightenment, He made a long journey to Benares - a journey that took Him more than a week - just to convert a group of five ascetics and made them a monk. He knew very well that all the five had a very high possibility of becoming a monk and forming the Order.

      He continued focusing on establishing the Order until He became confident that the Order has been well established and was capable of helping Him to propagate the Dhamma. His teachings spread far and wide after He passed away. Despite the fact that the Buddha was no longer with us, the geographical expansion still took place in a greater scale. The Buddha Himself would have definitely foreseen this great service of His disciples that He put a lot of effort to establish the monastic well ahead of other European countries in both academic field and monastic life. We owe a lot to the most venerable monks of true missionary spirit from Sri Lanka , Thailand , Burma and other countries that we have made our way far in this new land. I am speaking about this just to remind ourselves that the Sangha of 19th and 20th century also deserve to be called a devout and true follower of the Lord Buddha. They - like the late Ven. Narada of Vajirarama, Colombo and Ven. Dr. H. Saddhatissa - should be credited for what we are here now . Ven.U Setthila (Thittila) of Burma who arrived here in England during WW II and Ven. Ajahn Chah , Thailand's best know meditation master of our time must not be forgotten for their great service rendered to the cause of Buddha Sasana in this United Kingdom.

      Together with ceaseless support on the part of the devotees, the successive kathina ceremonies held every year in Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand and other countries have enabled the monks to carry on their missionary work far and wide. The Kathina ceremony we are celebrating today will have the effect just as well like that.

Tanzaungmon Month and Light Festival

(Saddhamaransi Sayadaw Ashin Kundalabhivamsa)

      Today is the full-full-moon day of Tanzaungmone, so it is more appropriate to deliver a Dhamma Discourse on Tanzaungmone-month. First we should know the meaning; secondly about the light festival in that month and thirdly the types of cetiya (pagoda). In ancient times, round about Pagan Era, this month was called "Tanzaungmone "Tan" means light or power, "saung" connotes to fetch, "mhone" connotes to destroy or dispel. The full meaning is therefore "to fetch light or power to destroy or dispel darkness". In those days astronomy was very popular and most people studied it. Moreover this particular month was regarded as the month of kyattika Planet and the light festival was celebrated in honour of the Fire-god, the guardian of this planet. It was believed that, this Fire-god used to descend to earth during this month and the king and his people, as a tradition offered lights to him. The guardians or devas of various planets were worshipped with great respect in those days.

      Nowadays the custom of worshipping the guardians of planets is replaced by the light festival offering light to various cetiyas in the Deva world, the Brahma world and the world of human beings. The reason for the change in the manner of worship is due to the elders, well-versed in dhamma scriptures who pointed out that offering lights to cetiyas is more beneficial and meritorious than to the guardian devas.

Culamani Cetiya

      Buddha-would-be Prince Siddhatha enjoyed worldly pleasure for 16 years as a young prince and 13 years as a king. At the age of 29 years, while on his way to the Royal Garden, devas created at an interval of 4 months, four omens namely decay, sickness, death and a monk for the Prince. Upon seeing these omens, he realized the sufferings in a human life, became remorseful and renounced the world at mid-night of the same day. On the bank of Anoma River, he cut his knot of hair and threw it into the sky together with his crown and made a vow, "May my crown and the knot of hair hang in the sky if I'm destined to be a Buddha; if not may they fall onto the ground." The knot of hair and the crown hung in the sky at a distance of one yuzana (8 miles). The king of devas, seeing it through his deva eyes came with a golden flower basket to receive it. He took it to Tavatamsa (the second plane of deva realm) and enshrined it in a newly built cetiya, three yuzanas high. It was decorated with seven kinds of gems and known as "Culamani Cetiya", meaning cetiya of Buddha-would-be's hair and crown. People now worship and offer lights to this cetiya, especially in the month of Tanzaungmone and celebrate a light festival in honour of Culamani Cetiya.

      Motto: Culamani Cetiya in Tavatamsa

      It has a height of three yuzanas

      If you wish to see this cetiya with your own eyes, you should practise to attain super-normal power. However it is not much practised by the people nowadays and they believe the existence of this cetiya in the deva world, through the dhamma scriptures. As a matter of fact, to have faith and reverence in this Culamani Cetiya is most significant in worshipping it.

      Dussa Cetiya

      Another cetiya is in the Ekkanittha Brahma world built by Gatigara Brahma who was a friend of the Buddha-would be during the time of Kassapha Buddha. On learning that Prince Siddattha had renounced the world and was going to be a monk, he offered him eight requisites. That is the first acknowledgment of the 8 requisites for monks. We should have a thorough knowledge of the 8 requisites. Perhaps some interested foreign yogi should enquire, you must be prepared to give a complete account of it. Some may have and some may not have the idea of 8 requisites. They just buy from the shop without enquiring about it. They are (1) Under garment (2) Upper garment (3) a great robe of double layer (4) an alms bowl (5) a razor blade (6) thread and needle (7) a yellow belt and (8) a water filter.

      Gatigara Brahma took the Buddha-would be's garment and enshrined it in a cetiya called "Dussa Cetiya" which is 12 yuzanas high. The Buddha-would-be Prince, being a fully perfected one, adorned the robes neatly. Dussa means an under garment of a prince. The Ekkanittha Brahma realm is the highest in the Brahma world . Although we can not see it ourselves, we can worship it with firm faith and thus gain merits.

      Motto: Dussa Cetiya in Ekkanittha

      Has a height of twelve yuzanas

      During the month of Tansaungmone light is offered to all cetiyas in the realm of human beings.

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First posted on 13th February 2000

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