Tag: festival

Renunciation of the Buddha : Siddhartha leaves the Palace

Prince Siddhartha’s renunciation soon took place after the birth of his son Rahula. He affirmed his decision to leave after a feast failed to distract him.

Suddhodana organised a great feast for the young prince to celebrate the birth of his son, Rahula. The best dancers and musicians in the country were invited to perform. It was not out of delight that Suddhodana arranged it. He saw that Siddhartha was unhappy and that his new infant child was not giving him joy. The king was worried about the prince’s plans to leave the Palace. For the last time, he tried his best to divert him far from his solemn reflections.
Siddhartha went to the gathering just to satisfy his father. Siddhartha was worn out from his thoughts and he soon nodded off.

The performers soon stopped and they too rested when they saw this. Soon thereafter, the prince arose, stunned to see these people asleep. All the best performers and entertainers in the kingdom were now in such positions. These same people, who, hours prior, were endeavoring to make the prince so cheerful were now snoring loudly, some crushing and biting their teeth, they were tired from the effort. This change in their appearance made Siddhartha much more sickened and sad. He thought how oppressive it was. His mind turned again towards leaving the castle. He got up silently from the room and, woke up Channa, and made a request to saddle Kanthaka, his steed.

As Channa was saddling up Kanthaka, Siddhartha went to see his infant child for the first time. Yasodhara was laying down with the child next to her, her hand laying on the infant’s head. Siddhartha thought that if he attempts to move her hand so he can hold the baby for one final hug, he might wake her and she will keep him from his renunciation. He should leave at any cost, however, when he has discovered what he seeks, he shall return and see them once more.

Discreetly, Siddhartha left. At midnight, and the ruler was on his white steed Kanthaka with Channa, his loyal servant, held its tail. No one halted him as he rode far from all who knew, regarded and cherished him. He looked at the city of Kapilavastu one last time in the moonlight. He was renouncing his life to figure out to understand old age, disease and death. He rode to the bank of the stream Anoma (“celebrated”) and got off from his steed. He took off his adornments and royal garments and offered them to Channa to take them back to Suddhodhana. He then took his sword and trimmed off his long hair, wore simple robes, took a begging bowl and requested Channa to return with Kanthaka. Channa was asked to tell the king about his renunciation and that he shall return only when he had found the truth.

Channa was reluctant to return, but he began to go, however Kanthaka won’t follow him. The prince tried to persuade him, but Kanthaka won’t budge. Kanthaka figured that he might never see his master again. Kanthaka died of sadness as Siddhartha vanished into the horizon.

Thus was the renunciation.

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Ploughing Festival – Incident in Buddha’s life and its legacy

The Ploughing Festival originates from the times when Prince Gautama seven years old. It is also known as Royal Ploughing Ceremony. It was the premise of an ordeal which would later assist him in his search for Enlightenment.
The King  Sudhodana organized a ploughing festival to promote agriculture. It was for sure a merry event for all, as the both nobles and average citizens partook in the function.

The King went to the field on the designated day, joined by his squires. He brought along with him the young child along with the caretakers. The King took part in the furrowing celebration too. He seated young Siddhartha at a place under the cool shade of a singular rose-apple tree to be taken care of by the nurses. The attendants too wandered off from the young prince to get a look at the exhibition when the celebration was at its peak.

It was quiet and calm under the rose-apple tree, contrasting the cheerfulness of the celebration. The conditions were right for meditation, the thoughtful prince, sat with folded legs and grabbed the chance to start the extremely critical routine with regards to purpose : fixation on the breath – on exhalations and inward breaths – which picked up for him without further ado that one sharpness of mind known as Samādhi.

He, in this way, built up the First Jhāna (Ecstasy). His attendants hurried to the child when they understood their obligation, and were astounded to see him sitting leg over leg dove in profound meditation. The King, knowing about it, rushed to the spot and saw the youngster in reflective stance, saluted him, saying – “This child is my second homage”.

The Ploughing Festival in Theravada Countries

The Ploughing Festival is an ancient royal custom held in many South East Asian countries, signifying the traditional beginning of the rice growing season. The royal ploughing ceremony was also a custom in Myanmar before colonization until the monarchy was abolished in 1885.

As of now, the festival is practiced in Thailand, Cambodia and Sri Lanka.

Royal Ploughing Festival

The Ritual

It is usually held in the month of May. Buddhist monks sit with folded legs near a Buddha statue looking down on the rice ploughing. White oxen pull decorated plough as they are followed by people playing music and bearing banners. Then the Lord of the Festival digs three short furrows rice is sown in them.

The oxen are offered food after the ploughing, including rice, green beans, sesame, corn, fresh-cut grass, water and rice whisky.

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