2011-2012 marks the auspicious 2,600th Anniversary of Buddhism. Nalanda is commemorating this pivotal milestone with special study tours to Borobudur in July, and to Sri Lanka in September; followed by a pilgrimage to India and Nepal in December 2012. All these tours will be led by our Founder Bro. H S Tan.
As part of Nalanda’s Wesak Programme, we were fortunate to have Mr. Vijaya Samarawickrama (also fondly known as Uncle Vijaya) give a Dhamma talk this morning on “Being Well Begins with Me”, in line with this year’s Wesak theme. “Be-ing” means to be here and now. It is dwelling in the present, letting go of the past and not worrying about a future that has not materialised.
The Wesak Procession held annually in Sri Serdang by Nalanda Buddhist Society is a truly unique experience! It is the only procession in Malaysia where the Buddharupam (image) is paraded on a wooden sedan and carried by 12 men taking turns. There is also a second Buddharupam ferried on a bahtera (boat), pulled by devotees along the 1.3km procession route. Devotees cover the route in 2,600 mindful steps, marking the 2,600th Anniversary of Buddhism this year.
Besides the sedan and bahtera, there is an assortment of colourful parasols, figurines and flags on parade, which are borne by devotees in traditional Nalandian uniform of sarong and white tops. Students of Nalanda Dharma School will also put up a spirited ‘Naga Dance’, accompanied by the beats of drums, gong and cymbals. The sights and sounds of the Nalandian procession rich in heritage is truly something to behold. It is also an event much anticipated and photographed; in fact, the procession was even featured on a Sri Lankan television programme on Wesak celebrations!
What can we do to make this Wesak a meaningful day? Besides participating in religious activities at Buddhist temple or centre, we can also read a book on Buddhism and share our understanding with family members and friends.
Wesak Day is an occasion for us to commemorate the three important events in the life of the Buddha – His Birth, Enlightenment and Passing Away. By reflecting on the honourable personality of the Buddha, and acting upon His teaching to the world – ‘Way to Peace’, humankind can live free from strife, and achieve well-beings in its entirety.
1 May is designated ‘Nalanda Day’; it marks the 9th anniversary of Nalanda’s founding. On this day, Nalandians congregated for morning devotion at the Shrine Hall, before gathering in the Srivijaya Hall, where important Society events are usually held.
Among the many significant ‘news’ for the day were the launchings of Nalanda’s revised website, our new uniform, our first vehicle – a reconditioned, used-van generously donated by Mr. Chan Fong, and “Nalanda-Macro” – an important document outlining Nalanda’s Transformation Programme and our organizational goals for the next one year.
Wesak Day commemorates the three-fold events in the life of the Buddha – His Birth, His Enlightenment and His Passing Away. This year’s celebration marks the 2600th Anniversary of Buddhism. It was through the Buddha’s way of virtuous living and insightful practice that he developed the true understanding to gain liberation from suffering. His lofty attainment of Ultimate Peace was taught compassionately to benefit all beings.
In conjunction with the upcoming Wesak Day, Mr. Vijaya Samarawickrama, the Director of Nalanda Institute, conducted a 3-hour course on the “True Significance of WESAK”, which aimed to better inform Buddhists on the right spirit and understanding of celebrating Wesak.
“The practice of giving is universally recognised as one of the most basic human virtues, a quality that testifies to the depth of one’s humanity and one’s capacity for self-transcendence. In the teaching of the Buddha, too, the practice of giving claims a place of special eminence, one which singles it out as being in a sense the foundation and seed of spiritual development.”
Dāna, the practice of giving, is often related to the quality of generosity (cāga). The highlight here is not so much the physical act of transferring an object from one’s hands to another’s, but rather the inward transformation that gradually takes place as we experience the joy of giving, naturally loosening the knots of greed and hate, allowing us to feel happier and more at peace within.
On Wesak Day, 5 May 2012, Nalanda is hosting several events to encourage the practice of giving and develop the virtue of generosity.