By Dr. Khin Maung Nyunt (Maha Saddhamma Jotika Dhaja, Sithu)
The seventh month of Myanmar lunar Calendar Thidin-kyut corresponds to October. Literal meaning of Thidin-kyut is ”rain retreat is ended” Monks with the waso vows of residing in the monasteries during crops growing period of three months Waso, Wakhaung and Tawthalin [July, August and September respectively] are free to go out.
Astrologically named Tula [Libra] the zodiacal sign of this month is a man holding a balance. The asterism ”Asawani” and the Moon shine astride in nocturnal firmament. Five different species of aquatic flower Lotus [Nymphaea alba], Red Lotus [Nymphaca Rubra], Blue Lotus [Nymphaca Stellata], Padoma Lotus [Nelumbium Speciosum] and Poun Najei Kya [Lxora Arborea]. Hence Lotus flower is traditionally designated as the flower of this month. White and Padoma Lotus are very sacred for Buddhists. Louts is the symbol of purity as it as perfect in beauty, fragrance and purity stemming out of the muddy water. Besides Lotus symbolizes peace, prosperity and progress. Its beauty brings physical and mental peace. Lotus multiply very quickly and very mush covering the entire aquatic body, enticing all winged and watery creatures birds, bees, wasps, butterflies, tiny insects, all watery creatures fish, tortoise etc, etc. Four Lotus flowers and one lotus bud represent four Buddhas already revealed and on but represent the upcoming Buddha—Miteya Buddha.
On the full-moon night of Thidinkyut Lord Gotama Buddha returned to Earth, human kingdom after he completed his Sermon of Abhidhamma in the Kingdom of devas Tavatimsa Lord Gotama Buddha went up to Tavatimsa to deliver Abhidhamma to fulfil his filial duty to his mother Maha Maya who became Santussita deva. The filial debt of gratitude to mother is that mother conceives child in her womb, that she givens birth to the child and that she feeds the child her breast milk to grow up.
Lord Gotama Buddha observed his seventh lent in Tavatims to preach his mother of previous existence now Santussita deva his philosophy Abhidhamma. Sitting on the brown emerald slab called Pandukambala under the shade of Pinle Kathit, Tree or Coral Tree [Erythrina Indiea]. Lord Buddha expounded the seven sections of Abhidhamma to his mother ”Santussita deva and all gathering of devas and Brahmas of all universes. On the full-moon day of Thidinkyut, the Abhidhamma delivery came to end.
Lord Buddha told Sakka Deva that he would return to human world. Whereupon Sakka Deva created three Stair ways (1). Gold Stair-way on the right side for the devas (2). Silver stair-way on the left for all Brahmas and (3). Ruby stair-way in the middle for Lord Buddha. Many devas accompanied Lord Buddha holding celestial regalia. Pancha Thinkha deva with five hair knots, on the right played Veluva harp in praise of Lord Buddha, Sayama Deva held a yaktail flywhisk, Satussita Deva held a ruby studded gold fan and Sakka Deva blew Vizayuttara Conch shell to celebrate the auspicious occasion. All deities of the whole Universe gathered to pay their homage to Lord Buddha as best they could. The stair-ways were illuminated by the lights radiated from the deities. At the gate way of the city of Sankassa Nagura on earth, Lord Buddha set foot on Earth. The welcoming crowd paid a resounding welcome homage to Lord Buddha the entire city was lit by oil lamps. The full moon above in the sky and oil lamps flickering.
To commemorate this great event Myanmar people annually hold Tavatimsa Festival or Simee Myintmoe Festival or Thidinkyut Light Festival Myintmoe [Mt Meru upon which is Tavatimsa]. In the time of Myanmar Kings, Light Festival of Thindin Kyut was held and celebrated without fail. A special fund was issued from Royal Treasuring Special committees and sub-committees were formed by royal order. Minister, civil and military services men were tasked to the successful holding of this festival. Replicas of Mt Meru were built on four sides of the royal palace city, on which the grand descent of Lord Buddha from Tavatimsa was reenacted accompanied with religious songs and music. Their Majesties and the court made entourage visiting Pandals of Replica Mr Meru Oil lamps line up the streets from Palace city to prominent Pagodas in four directions. Music, dance song entertainments were held. Their Majesties gave awards, cash and kind to outstanding performers. Myanmar chronicles [history books, as well as Treaties, kept detail account of Thidin Kyut Light festivals. Prominent Treaties was Loka Byuhar or Inyones Sardan compiled by Minister Thri U Zana of Inwa period of Myanmar history. It was a treatise of Court Ceremonies and Monthy Festivals.
Light Festival of Thidin Kyut lasts three successive nights the 14th waxing moon day, the 15th Full moon day and 1st waning moon day. On the 1st waning day begins Puja festival Myanmar Buddhists have Five Categories whom you owe infinite gratitude namely (1). The Buddha, the Dhamma, the Samgha, Parents Acariya [Teachers, Superiors, Bosses, etc.]. So on the 1st waning moon of this month Acariya Pujas are held across the country, school, colleges, Universities, Government Ministries, Departments, Companies Armed Forces Army, Navy and Air. Regardless of race, religion, rank and creed all hold and participate in such pujas.
The recipients of Pujas are all age groups and all faiths, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Chris Liam, Puja makers are the same. They offer cash or kind to the puja-recipients and beg pardon from them saying they might have committed physically, verbally or mentally against their teachers, superiors, bosses. The recipients utter three times sadu [well done] three times and unanimously exclaim all are pardoned and wish them success, health and long life. The same pujas are paid to your parents and elders in your family.
Festive mood is always created by music, songs and dance. Performing arts always accompany happy and joyous events and occasions. Free lunch and free feast for all friends, strangers as well.