AT KAMALASHILA TIBETAN BUDDHIST CENTRE 12 MAY – 10 June 2021
Saga Dawa (Vesak) marks the month of Buddha Shakyamuni’s birth, enlightenment and His Mahaparinirvana, the 1st day of the 4th lunar calendar month commences Saga Dawa, this year falling on Wednesday 12 May 2021 (2148 in the Tibetan Calendar). The actual birthdate of the Buddha Tempei Düchen falls this year on 19 May. Saga Dawa Düchen ས་ག་ཟླ་བ་དུས་ཆེན་ then marks both the enlightenment (Sangye) and the Buddha’s Mahaparinirvana (Nyangde Düchen) which is always on the full moon day, being the 15th day of the lunar month, 26 May 2021. This being the most important and most auspicious month in the Tibetan lunar calendar. Düchen means “Great Occasion” and this day is the single most holy day of the year for Tibetan Buddhists.
In other Buddhist traditions this occasion is known as Vesak or is sometimes called Buddha Day and may fall within a different month, yet around the same time of the year. Saga Dawa is known as the month of merits. Tibetan Buddhists make extra efforts to practice more generosity (Dana), virtue, and compassion to accumulate greater merit. Tibetans believe that on the 10th and 15th day of this month the merits of one’s actions are hugely increased, 100,000x positive actions or negative. Accumulating this merit is understood in many ways, it could be the fruits of good karma, especially when it brings us closer to enlightenment. The three grounds of meritorious actions are generosity and mental culture or meditation.
Traditionally, the holy day of Saga Dawa Düchen is observed through practice, generosity, and the performance of meritorious deeds, such as the practice of Life Release. This is commonly performed by purchasing animals that are destined to be killed (like lambs, fish, worms and/or crickets), and releasing them into their natural habitats with prayers and positive aspirations. One must be mindful though that this release does not cause them more suffering being in the wrong environment. As Khenpo la always suggests and reminds us during this most auspicious and sacred month is to practice being vegetarian, to release any animals that may have otherwise been killed for food or other reasons. The act of giving life in this way is believed to extend the practitioner or benefactor’s lifespan and create positive circumstances. You can also take an extended vow or vegetarianism, creating vast merit through your noble aspiration to reduce suffering.
“Behold, O monks, this is my last advice to you. All component things in the world are changeable. They are not lasting. Work hard to gain your own salvation.” The Buddha
At Kamalashila Tibetan Buddhist Centre there is an opportunity to sponsor (Dana) towards the daily lighting of candles. The first 9 days of Saga Dawa there will be 50 candles lit on each day, on the 10th and 15th days, 100 candles will be offered on the sponsors behalf and for all mother sentient beings to be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.