One of the most enduring and evocative traditions at Nalanda is the “Achariya-abhivādana” – where Nalandian officers formally pay respect to teachers past and present. The simple ceremony is performed on special occasions such as ‘Buddha Day’, ‘Dhamma Day’, ‘Sangha Day’, ‘Education Day’ (on 11 December), Nalanda’s anniversary celebration (‘Nalanda Day’, on 1 May), and memorial days of departed achariyas.
The Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha are collectively known in Buddhism as the ‘Three Jewels’ (Pāli, “Tiratanā”). They are also regarded by Buddhist adherents as our ‘Three Refuges’ (Pāli, “Tisaranā”). Buddhists revere these ‘Three Jewels’ with the highest esteem – the ‘Buddha’ is our Enlightened Teacher; the ‘Dhamma’ He taught is the Path to Liberation; and the ‘Ariya Sangha’ is the community of His Enlightened disciples. This community comprises spiritually-developed followers who attained any of the four stages of sainthood.
A special procession of Buddha Relic, the Tipitaka and Māha Sangha will be held at 8.45 am tomorrow (Wednesday, 31 August) to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the passing of Venerable Dr. K. Sri Dhammananda – Nalanda’s late Spiritual Adviser and the Sanghanāyaka Thera of Malaysia.
Yesterday, Nalanda Centre had the great honour to be bequeathed with a Buddha Relic (Pāli, “Śarīra”) – a single bone fragment of the Blessed One. The Relic was previously under the custodianship of the late Venerable K. Sri Dhammananda Nāyaka Thero and Achariya Vijaya Samarawickrama for many decades.
31 August is the anniversary of the late Venerable K. Sri Dhammananda’s passing; he was the Spiritual Adviser to Nalanda and the ‘Sanghanāyaka Thera’ of Malaysia. Every year, on the Sunday* preceding 31 August, the upper robe (Pāli, “uttarāsanga”) of the late venerable will be taken out from its case, washed, and dried in the same morning.
Frequent visitors to Nalanda Centre would have noticed that occasionally, little coloured ribbons were tied to the door handles. The ribbons – in orange, white or black – are used to tell the occasion at Nalanda. Orange ribbons are tied during major celebrations such as ‘Buddha Day’, ‘Dhamma Day’, and on the Society’s anniversary (‘Nalanda Day’).
As part of the annual ‘Buddha Day’ celebrations, Nalanda Dhamma School has been organising educational exhibitions for the public since 2006. Every year, School facilitators and students will prepare exhibits for the ‘Buddha Jayanti’ Exhibition in May, as part of their curriculum.
The Wesak Observance period usually spans three to four days in Sri Serdang. Nalanda founder Bro. Tan emphasized that the significance of Wesak Day is the celebration of Buddha’s Enlightenment – which has such a significant impact on humanity. And the way to ‘celebrate’ His Awakening is to learn His teachings properly and practise them conscientiously; this is also the manner to truly honour and revere Him. Hence, activities during Wesak should emphasize more on educating the community than merely on performing rituals.
The first Service on ‘Buddha Day’ takes place shortly after dawn, at around 6.45am, followed by monks going out for alms. However, the second Morning Service which begins at 9.00am is even more significant. The “Wesak Traditions” posting today highlights with programmes held on ‘Buddha Day’ from 9am to 1pm.