Abhidhamma Day and Buddha’s Mother Day on Thidingyut Full Moon

Maha Saddhamma Maha Saddhamma Jotika Dhaja,Sithu Dr. Khin Maung Nyunt

Hundreds of people release lanterns into the sky in celebration of Thadingyut. Photo MNA copy
Hundreds of people release lanterns into the sky in celebration of Thadingyut. Photo: MNA

In Buddhist culture, there are five categories called (အနေႏၱာ၊ အနႏၱငါးပါး) to whom you owe infinite gratitude. They are as follows:1. The Buddha, the giver of truth, Dhamma2. The Dhamma, his teachings3. The Sangha, the order of monks who carry out the mission of the Dhamma4. Parents, Mother and Father5. Acariya, the teachers.Abhidhamma is one of Tipitaka of Buddhism. Directly translated three Baskets of Dhamma or Three corpuses, of Buddhism. They are1. Three Treatises of Suttas [discourses] 2. Five treatises of Vinaya or Disciplines for the Buddhist monks and3. Seven Treatises of Abhidhamma. Abhidhamma is the ultimate truth behind all illusions.Lord Buddha went up to the celestial Kingdom “Tavatimsa” where his mother Maha Maya, chief Queen of Emperor Sudhodana of Kapila Vittu Kingdom became Sandusitha deva, after her demise a week after she gave birth to baby boy Prince Sidhartha [Bodhisutha or Buddha to be] For carrying and keeping in her womb and giving birth to him and feeding him her breast milk the son owed indefinite gratitude to his mother. On becoming Buddha, the son was obliged to fulfill his filial gratitude to his mother. So the Buddha spent the whole Lent in Tavatimsa to deliver his Abhidhamma to his mother, now Santisitha deva in Tavatimsa celestial Kingdom. The delivery of Abhidhamma at Tavatimsa took the whole rain retreat of that year. All Brahmas and deities of the entire Universe gathered to listen to the delivery of Abhidhamma.Lord Gotama Buddha said that he gave that delivery of Abhidhamma to his previous mother as an obligation of returning his indefinite gratitude to her for bearing him, giving birth to him and feeding him with her breast milk. By his shining example he showed us that we owe boundless filial gratitude to our mothers for keeping us in their wombs, giving us births and feeding us with their breast milk. After finishing his delivery of Abhidhamma in Tavatimsa, the Buddha returned to Earth on full moon of Thadingyut [October].Full moon of Thadingyut is therefore very sacred for the Buddhists. Traditionally Myanmar commemorate the Day as Abhidhamma Day and hold annually the Festival of Light of Thadingyut. It is also Buddha’s Mother Day. We have many commemorative days marked by the United Nations Organization UNO such as UN Day for Peace, UN Day for Democracy, UN’s Mother Day UN Father Day etc. etc. In fact Full moon of Thadingyut is Buddha’s Mother Day which far preceded UN Mother Day. The Full moon day of Thadingyut is commemorated as Abhidhamma Day. Here the writer humbly and rightly proposes that it should be marked as Buddha’s Mother Day. Also three consecutive days of Thadingyut namely pre full moon day, Full moon day and the day after it are celebrated as festival of light in Thadingyut.The background story of this light festival is that. Lord Buddha told Saka Deva [Thunder God of Tavatimsa] that he would return to Earth as he had finished preaching Abhidhamma. So on full moon night of Thadingyut. Saka deva created three stair ways leading down to Earth. The middle stair way was built of rubies for the Buddha to step down. The right side stair way was built of gold for the devas to step down and the left side stair way built of silver for the Brahmas to step down. The returning Buddha was honoured by celestial regalia and ceremonies. Many deities accompanied the Lord Buddha. Panca Thinkha  deva with five hair knots on the right played the Veluva harp in praise of Lord Buddha. Matalideva on the left carried flowers and fragrances to honour Lord Buddha. Suyama deva carried the yaktail fly whisk, Santusitta  deva held the rubystudded gold fan and Saka deva blew the Vizayuttara conch shell to celebrate the occasion. All deities dwelling in the whole of Universe gathered to pay homage to Lord Buddha as best they could. The three stair ways, being illuminated by the lights radiated from the deities led to the gateway of the city of Sankassa on earth. When Lord Buddha set foot upon the earth, the crowd awaited at the city gate all paid obeisance to Lord Buddha and a grand ceremony was held to welcome and honour him.To commemorate this great event in the lifetime of Lord Buddha which took place on the full moon of Thadingyut. Myanmar Kings and people held and still holding today “Tawetaintha [Tavatimsa] Festival, or Myint Moe Pwe because Tavatimsa is said to be located on the summit of Mt. Meru. Fantastic replicas of Mt. Meru were constructed each with three stain ways with statues of Lord Buddha and other respective Brahmas, devas and Sakka devas etc. on them. When darkness falls and full moon rises, lights are lit. Deeds of religious merits are done at Pagodas and temples and monasteries. In the days of Myanmar kings. Thadingyut light festival was held by the State. Royal Treasury paid for all expenses  Inside the palace city and around four corners of outside palace city, semi. Myint Moe Pwes were held with illuminations and holding of performing arts, by both human actors and puppets.The last Myanmar King Thibaw never failed to hold this traditional light festival of Thadingyut. Konbaungset Maha Yaza Wun ‘Taw Kyi [The Great Royal Chronicle of Konbaung dynasty] vol. 3 fully recorded the account of light festival of Thadingyut held by the king in AD 1883. Two serious ceremonies of Thadingyut are Pawarana and Puja. At the end of Buddhist Lent, all Buddhist monks of the same residing monastery gather together and ask each other by turn to reprimand him who is believed or found to have committed any sin. The concerned monk has to confess and promise not to repeat the sin. In that way, transparency, accountality, responsibly and unity and harmony are maintained in the Sangha Order.Puja means worship or giving a devotional offering. This ceremony is usually performed by laymen. Who pay pujas to the Buddha, the Dhamma, the Sangha, Parents and teachers [including the aged] Recipients of Puja give blessings after exclaiming delights of Sadu [well done] three times to the worshipper. Young ones usually get pocket money from parents, teachers or the aged or some sweet cakes. Full moon Thadingyut is the great occasion for religious and socio-cultural activities we Myanmar never fail to observe, commemorate and enjoy.

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