Bathing the Buddha Ceremony and Wesak

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The morning of 3 May 2006 saw the children and teachers of Taska Than Hsiang in Sungai Ara, waiting in quiet anticipation for the Bathing the Buddha Ceremony to start. At 9.15am the Ceremony began with Venerable Wei Wu leading the bhikshus and bhikshunis in chanting the Heart Sutra and the Bathing Buddha Gatha. While the Bathing Buddha Gatha was being chanted, Venerable Wei Wu poured three ladles of fragrant water over the Buddha statue and the children, parents and teachers followed suit in this solemn ceremony.

After the Ceremony, Venerable Wei Wu talked to the children. He told them that when we bathed the Buddha, it was a symbolic reminder to purify our heart and mind from the three poisons of greed, hatred and ignorance. He asked the children if they wanted to be good and who they should listen to. The children spontaneously responded by saying they should listen to their parents, teachers, the Buddha, and Shifu (Venerable Wei Wu).

The same Bathing the Buddha Ceremony was performed at Than Hsiang Temple on the morning of 5 May 2006 for the children of Than Hsiang Kindergarten. Later in the afternoon, another Bathing the Buddha Ceremony was performed for the senior residents of Wan Ching Yuen Centre and the children of Than Hsiang Kindergarten. A similar Ceremony was performed for members of Than Hsiang Sunday School on Sunday, 7 May 2006 at 10.00am.

On Buddha Day (Wesak), Friday 12 May 2006, the Bathing the Buddha Ceremony was elaborately held at the Main Shrine Hall of Than Hsiang Temple. In order to cater for the massive crowd expected for this Ceremony, five “stations ” (four in the Main Shrine Hall and one in the Hall of Great Compassion) were set up for Bathing the Buddha, with each “station” enabling three devotees to perform the Ceremony at any one time. Thus every devotee had a chance to perform this religious Ceremony. All in, more than 4,000 devotees performed this spiritual Ceremony.

In his Dharma talk to the devotees, Venerable Wei Wu talked about the significance of the Bathing the Buddha Ceremony. He said that the Bodhisattva, had gone through countless rebirths practising pure living. Before he was born into this world, he was born in Tusita Heaven where he lived for four thousand years.

Sakyamuni Buddha was born in the Garden of Lumbini, Nepal. Following custom, his mother, Queen Maya, was returning to her parents' home for the birth and had stopped in the lush garden to rest. As she held out her right hand to take a hanging branch of an Asoka tree, the Bodhisattva was born from her right side. After his birth, the Bodhisattva, Prince Siddhartha Gautama took seven steps, each treading on a lotus flower. He said he had come into the world to become the Buddha. At this the heavens offered flowers and the nine celestial dragons washed him with fragrant rain that sprang from their mouths. After the bath, the young prince was purified in body and mind.

Venerable Wei Wu said this story was the origin of the Bathing the Buddha ceremony. He said the pouring of water over the shoulders of the Buddha served as a reminder to purify the mind from greed, hatred and ignorance. The ceremony symbolized the washing away of greed, hatred and ignorance and purification of one's heart and mind.