Wesak! Festival of Buddha’s Birth

Wesak is the festival of Shakyamuni Buddha’s birth and is a very precious time when the entire sangha – adults and kids, parents and those without children – celebrate together.

For the Wesak ceremony, a bower built over a statue of the baby buddha placed in front of the main altar. The statue depicts the baby with one hand pointing toward heaven and the other pointing toward the earth, and it stands in a deep bowl of sweet tea. The children meet before the ceremony to lavishly decorate the bower with flowers.

The ceremony includes singing “Holy Day of Wesak” and chanting the Heart Sutra. We process in a serpentine fashion around the zendo, with each person passing by the bower, bowing, and pouring a ladlefull of sweet tea over the Buddha’s head, reflecting the legend that sweet rain and flowers fell from the sky when the Buddha was born.

After the ceremony, everyone meets elsewhere for the birthday party. Naturally, Buddha has a large birthday cake, and needs the very youngest kids to blow out the candles on it. A white six-tusked elephant zeñata is then systematically dealt with, starting with the littlest kids and proceeding up to blind-folded middle and high schoolers (if it survives that long).

Join us this Sunday, May 7, for zazen, sanzen, services, and Wesak. Genko and Gyoshi offer sanzen.

8:30am Zazen (with optional sanzen)
9:00 Kinhin (walking meditation)
9:40 Full Morning Service
10:10 Break / Announcements
10:30 Wesak! Festival of Buddha’s Birth
11:45 Informal Community Lunch – all invited.

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