The 8th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
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Bathing of the Buddha Ritual
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The festival celebrates the birthday of Prince Siddhartha Gautama, who was to become Sakyamuni Buddha, the founder of Buddhism. Prince Siddhartha was born on the 8th day of the fourth lunar month or on the day of the full moon in May over 2,500 years ago in Lumbini, Kapilavatsu in Northern India near the present border of Nepal.
Legend records that when Prince Siddhartha was born, there were extraordinary and auspicious signs heralding his birth. They describe the sky as being clear with brilliant sunshine, flowers blooming and birds singing. Dragon appears in the sky spurting two streams of purified water (one cool and one warm), that gently cascaded down to bathe the infant Buddha.
Since ancient times, Buddhists all over the world celebrate Buddha’s birthday by using fragrant water to bathe the image of the infant Buddha. There is great significance in the act as the fragrant water is poured over the statue of the infant Buddha three times. It symbolizes the cleansing of our body, speech and thoughts to eradicate anger, greed and ignorance in order to purify our minds to cultivate merits and wisdom. This ritual performed with reverence and a purified mind is said to improve harmony and inner balance, leading to a flourishing, fulfilling, wholesome, blissful and enlightened life.
The universal message is that “it’s easy to wash away physical dirt, but much more difficult to cleanse one’s inner impurity of greed, anger and ignorance”. This is the true meaning of the Bathing of the Buddha Ritual. Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike are welcome to partake in this significant ritual.
Kneel on the cushion
- 1st pouring: “May I eliminate all evil thoughts”
- 2nd pouring: “May I cultivate good deeds”
- 3rd pouring: “May I help save all living beings”