Saturday, 10 May 2008

Vesak or Visakah Puja

Vesak Day, the full moon day of the fourth lunar month, is the most important annual event for the Buddhist community. It commemorates the Birth, Enlightenment and Final Nirvana of the Buddha. It is named for the month of May and is celebrated on the full moon, when the Buddha's mother is said to have given birth to him in a garden in the Himalayan foothills while en route to her parents' home.

The meaning of Vesak lies with the Buddha’s universal peace message to humankind. It has become a festival for rejoicing and goodwill to all – and a moment to reflect on our spiritual development and gratitude towards everyone. The name "Vesak" comes from the Indian month of that name in which it is held.

On Vesak day, some buddhists observe the Eight Precepts, while others may join the communal observances by going through the ceremony of taking the Threefold Refuge (in the Buddha, Dharma- the Buddha’s Teachings and Sangha-the community of monks and nuns), observing the Five Precepts of respect for life (not to kill); respect for personal property (not to steal); respect for personal relationships (not to indulge in the senses); respect for truth (not to lie); and respect for mental and physical well-being (not to take intoxicants); making offerings at shrines and chanting of sutras. They may also participate in processions and circumambulation, and listen to sermons of the Buddha’s Teachings.

Many Buddhists also take vegetarian meals on this day as they recall the teaching of universal Compassion. This is a day when temples are colourfully decorated with Buddhist flags and lights, and shrines filled with flowers, fruits and other offerings.

卫塞节, 农历四月十五的月圆之日, 是佛教团体每年最重要的一个节日。它纪念了佛陀出生、悟道及涅槃的三件大事。这天世界各地数以万计的佛教徒都会庆祝这个节日。卫塞的意义在于佛陀传达给全人类普遍性的和平讯息。这是一个让大家喜悦及互相祝福的美好节日,也是我们检讨自己在灵修上的进展与感恩大众的日子。

对于一些佛教徒而言,卫塞节的庆祝仪式始于早上到佛寺去受八关斋戒。有些信徒可能会集体接受三皈依 (皈依佛、法及僧)、受五戒 (尊重生命即断杀、护生;尊重个人的产业即不偷盗、乐于施舍;尊重人际的关系即不邪淫 、知足;尊重真相即不妄语、诚实; 尊重精神及身体的良好状态即不服用麻醉品)、供养三宝及诵念经文,他们也可能参加绕佛仪式并听闻佛法。

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