“Buddha’s Bathing” ritual purifies pilgrims’ souls

Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Issue 342, Page 5
Word count: 432
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

The traditional “Buddha’s Bathing” ritual was widely conducted in Macau yesterday to mark the Buddha’s Birthday which attracted thousands of worshippers to sprinkle water on the Buddha statue as a symbol of inner purification.

Three unique festivals, the Buddha’s Birthday, Feast of the Drunken Dragon and Feast of the God Tam Kung, occur on the same day in the lunar calendar – the eighth day of the fourth month – when religious celebrations can be sighted especially among the Chinese communities in East Asia every year.

This year the festivals fell on May 12 of the western calendar. Traditional rituals and parades were retained in Macau, Taipa and Coloane yesterday which attracted large crowds of spectaculars and devotees, particularly the Buddha’s Birthday is marked as a public holiday in the two SARs.

In order to celebrate the 2552th commemoration of the birth of Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism in ancient India, the Buddhist Association of Macau along with its branches organised blessing activities in several locations including the Lin Fung Primary School, Taipa Flower City Garden and the Tap Seac Square.

The “Bathing of the Buddha” ritual first started in the morning at the Po Tai Monastery in Taipa where a six-tonne weight, 5.4-metre high bronze Buddha status is housed.

Hundreds of Chinese worshippers, including parents and their children, came to the monastery to read Buddhist scripts, burn incenses for different Buddha statues, enjoy vegetarian meals and the most significantly, to participate in the annual “Buddha’s Bathing” ritual.

A much smaller statue of Gautama Buddha was placed in a ceremonial basin and worshippers scooped up water from the basin and sprinkled it with orchids from the top of the statue.

According to the Buddhist Association, having done the spiritual ritual signifies that the devotee’s body and soul can be “purified”.

Mrs Law, who visited the monastery with her husband and two children, said they came to participate in the commemorative events every year on the Buddha’s Birthday.

After completing the “Buddha’s Bathing” ritual, Mrs Law said she hoped that her two primary-school aged children could be blessed – “be more well-behaved and have a peaceful mind”.

Another worshipper Mr Lui said he came to the monastery with his family on this “special day” to bless for “good health”.

Several small Gautama Buddha statues were then transported to the Tap Seac Square for staging another open “Buddha’s Bathing” ritual which was attended by Chief Executive Edmund Ho Hau Wah who blessed for Macau and the people.

Hundreds of residents also lined up for conducting the ritual with different wishes in their hearts.

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