The birth anniversary of Gautama Buddha, the pioneer of the knowledge that there is sorrow in the world and that Nirvana or peace can be achieved by removing sorrow, is celebrated all over the world on Buddha Purnima or Baisakh Purnima. As Buddha’s birth, enlightenment, Mahaparinirvana (death) falls on the full moon day of Baishakh. Buddhists from all over the world, including Nepal, celebrate Buddha Jayanti with emotional reverence and devotion to the Buddha.
On the day of Buddha Jayanti on 8th June, 2008, for the first time, a public holiday was announced in Nepal and till now holiday is given. Similarly, a ban on killings and violence was announced in Lumbini on March 22, 2012, on the day of Buddha Jayanti. Gautam Buddha, the pioneer of world peace, has been granted a public holiday in the United Nations since 2002 on his birthday.
Born in Lumbini, Rupandehi, on the full moon day of Baisakh Shukla as the son of King Suddhodhana and Queen Mayadevi, Siddhartha Gautam left home at the age of 29 in search of knowledge. After six years of meditation, at the age of 35, he attained enlightenment on the full moon day of Baisakh Shukla in Bodh Gaya, India. At the age of thirty-six, he gave his first discourse to five disciples in Sarnath, which is called DharmachakraPravartan.
The Buddha preached the four Arya Satyas, the Arya AshtangikMarga, the Pratityasamutpada and the Pancasila. In the Four Noble Truths, the world is miserable, there is a cause of sorrow, the destruction of sorrow is possible, and the means of eradicating sorrow are explained in the Buddha’s philosophy.
Celebration of Buddha Jayanti
On the full moon day of Baisakh Shukla, both Hindus and Buddhists worship Buddha and celebrate Buddha Jayanti. It is not celebrated with loud noise or dances. By keeping in mind the nature of Buddha, a simple form is adopted. During the months of Buddha Jayanti, Kora (Saga Dawa) is held in monasteries and stupas, where the devotees take the round.
Various programs are organized on this day in places including Buddhist monastery of Kathmandu, Swayambhunath, Charumati monastery in Chabahil, monastery, stupa, chaitya, Lumbini of Rupandehi, Namobuddha of Kavrepalanchok.
Followers of Buddhism and Gautama Buddha’s teachings are spread in Nepal, India, China, Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Bhutan, Japan, Mongolia, Korea and other countries. They all visit to the specific stupas and chant the mantras. On this word, followers of Buddha avoid non-vegetarian food. They usually cook sweet rich porridge (Kheer).
Therefore, the significance of Buddha Jayanti lies not in worshipping Buddha statues in various temples, monasteries; but in advancing the interests of all mankind by embracing his teachings. I want all the Nepalses to follow the path shown by Buddha and be a kind human.
Uvauliis the great festival of Kiratis which is celebrated by Sunuwar, Rai, Limbu and Yakkha castes. This important festival of the Kiratis is worshiped in the spring to bring good health and happiness to all, and to prevent natural calamities. This festival of Kirantis is believed to have been in vogue since the beginning of the agricultural age on earth.
In the Uvauli festival, KiratKhambu (Rai) are adorned in their ethnic costumes and dance in Sakila / Sakena / SakhavuSili. Men in black coats, daura-suruwal, bouquet flowers, khukuri and Nepali hats are dancing in a rounded manner while women are dancing in a rounded bodice with a belt around their waists.
They dance with chauri tails, sillimo, pomi, lynchibungkodala, chamar and samkauliseuli in their hands. They adorn themselves with syaula, dhol, zyama, binayo and hair on their chests. SakelaShili, who dances in a circle, is now attracting the participation of youths of all castes.
Every year since the full moon of Baishakh, these castes have been worshiping the land in a grand manner. According to the Kiranti ritual, people celebrate the festival of UvauliChad, i.e. land, by dancing SakelaShili for one month. Since the Kiratis are nature worshipers, they celebrate Buddha Jayanti (Baishakh Purnima) every year to celebrate nature.
“FalameRetiRetaula, NamariBancheBhetaunlaSoiSoila Hoi SoiSoila”, this dance dates back to ancient times. The KirantKhambu-Rais worship patriarchy and nature. The KirantKhambu-Rais celebrate this special festival twice a year with the SakelaSakenwa season change. This festival is celebrated on the occasion of planting and threshing crops in the form of Ubhuli.
The festival, which is celebrated during the planting season, is celebrated with the hope that the crops will not be affected by diseases, natural disasters such as floods and landslides, and that Sumnima and Paruhang will protect the entire universe. This festival starts from the day when the day starts getting longer, i.e. Punirma. SakelaSakenwa danced together under the open sky.
The Sakela Sakenwa dance, which is danced in the same wave from childhood to old age, shows the collective spirit of this indigenous people. SakelaSakenwa is a group dance performed in the rhythm of drum-zyamta, imitating animals in a line-up of hand-foot gestures. KirantKhambuRais perform SakelaSakenwa dance gestures and performances in which agricultural activities such as digging, planting, cultivating and picking crops are performed.
Every festivals celebrated within 365 days in Nepal has its own meaning and significance. Our ancestors have successfully handed over all those festivals to us and it is our duty to protect them and pass to another generation. It doesn’t matter if we are Hindu or Buddhist or Christian or Kirati; because we all are Nepalese. Be it Buddha Jayanti or Uvauli, both are our festivals and celebration of both is crucial to bring all the people together.
-Article written by: Kusum Kharel for Land Nepal