The Sasana Flag (The sacred flag of Buddhists)


Ba Sein
(Religious Affairs)

Hoisting of the Sasana Flag is considered to be an auspicious sacred rite by Myanmar Buddhists. But, it is often found that the Sasana Flag is incorrectly hoisted at wrong place due to the ignorance of some people. Buddhists are ready to obey the rules and regulations of hoisting the Sasana Flag if they are properly instructed. Therefore, some important points and rules of the Sasana Flag are stated and presented here.
In Myanmar, the term, ‘’Buddha Sasana’’ is more usual than the term ‘’Buddhist’’. Consequently, the Buddha Sasana Council was organized and founded in order to hold the Sixth Buddhist Council in Yangon. The six-coloured Flag was used as an official Sasana Flag for the first time in Myanmar.
The First Congregation of the Sangha of All Orders, which was successfully held at the Maha Pasana Cave (Great Cave) on KabaAye Hillock, Yangon in 1980, passed and adopted the Fundamental Rules of the Sangha Organization of the Union of Myanmar, the Sasana Flag, which consists of the six illuminations of Divine Effulgence, is prescribed in detail in the chapter 10 of the Fundamental Rules of the Sangha Organization.
Instructions and directives are mentioned in the Procedures of the Fundamental Rules of the Sangha Organizations and the Manuals of the Sangha Nayaka Course.
The size of the Sasana Flag
Four sizes of the Sasana Flag are prescribed:-
(a)    The first size of the flag is 9 feet in length and 5 feet in width.
(b)    The second size is 4 feet, 6 inches in length and 2 feet 6 inches in width.
(c)    The third size is 2 feet 3 inches in length and 1 foot 3 inches in width.
(d)    The fourth size is 9 inches in length and 5 inches in width.
Arrangement of colour
The Flag has to be depicted in accordance with an specific range of colours:-
Diagram of Flag
The Flag can be used on the following Auspicious Days.
They are:-
(a)    The Fullmoon of Kason.
(b)    The Fullmoon of Nayon (Mahasamaya Day).
(c)    The Fullmoon of Waso (Dhammacakka Day).
(d)    The Fullmoon of Thidingyut (Abhidhamma Day and Maha Pavarana Day).
(e)    The Fullmoon of Tazaungmon (Samannaphala Day).
The Flag can also be used at the following religious ceremonies. The are:-
(a)    the ceremony of waso festival,
(b)    the Kathina (robes offering) ceremony,
(c)    the ceremony of the Abhidhamma Day,
(d)    the Shinpyu (Initiation) ceremony,
(e)    the ordination ceremony of bhikkhus,
(f)    the grand ceremony of offering to the bhikkhus,
(g)    the ceremony of maha (State) convocation,
(h)    the ceremony of Cula (regional) convocation,
(i)    Religious Titles Presentation Ceremony of the State
(j)    the ceremony of Tipitakadhara Tipitakabovida convocation
(k)    the Religious Examination centres
(l)    the ceremonies of Religious seminars, conferences and meetings
(m)    the ceremony of reciting scriptures,
(n)    the ceremony of hoisting the sacred umbrella,
(o)    the ceremony of the Sangha Pujaniya veneration,
(p)    the meetings of the Sangha (bhikkhus),
(q)    the court of the Sangha Vinicchaya
(r)    the training centres concerning Religious Affairs,
(s)    the ceremony of recitation of Patthana texts, and
(t)    the ceremony of recitation of Nikaya Scriptures.
Means of hoisting and using the Flag
The Sasana Flag has to be hoisted according to the following procedures:-
1.        When hoisting the Sasana Flag, the deep blue part of the flag must be at the flag side of the hoister.
2.        The deep blue strip of the Flag must be permanently at the very top of the five-mixed coloured portion of the flag (see the diagram).
3.        In hoisting the falg, it must be elevated quicky to the top of the mast, and should be lowered slowly.
4.        The Flag must be hoisted from dawn to sunset. But, the Flag can be hoisted the whole night at special important and grand occasions.
5.        When hoisting the Sasana flag on th stage, it must be put in horizontal position on an elevated part of the background of the stage. And, the falg must be in the flag position.
6.        When hoisting the Sasana flag together with other flags, it must be at the centre and in a higher position.
7.        When hoisting the Sasana flag at the auditorium, it must be on the right side and in front of the preacher.
8.        When hoisting the Sasana flag together with other flags at the auditorium, the Sasana flag must be placed at the left side of the preacher.
9.        When hoisting the Sasana flag on big vehicles, the flag must be firmly hoisted on the front part of the roof and if the vehicle is a small one, the flag must be hoisted at the front right of the vehicle.
10.    The Sasana Flag must be hoisted on the vehicles only when in procession carrying the Bodhi tree, the sacred umbrellas of the Pagoda, the Venerable Sayadaws, the
successful candidates of Sangha and the Dhamma preachers. But, the Sasana flag must be respectfully folded on the vehicles when the procession of the above presonages and sacred things concludes (is over).
11.    When hanging the Sasana Flag, it must be in horizontal position. It must never be in an upside down position. When hanging small pieces of Sasana paperflags, they must always be in vertical position.
12.    The Sasana Organizations and other Buddhist religious associations must obey the above instructions concerning the Sasana flag and use it systematically at the Religious meetings and ceremonies.
13.    The different levels of the Sangha Organizations of the Union of Myanmar are compulsorily instructed to hoist or hang or stick the Sasana flag during official meetings.
Points to note
It is necessary to take note of the following points concerning the Sasana flag to ensure due respect to the dignity of the flag. Points to note are as follows:-
(a)        The Sasana flag is not allowed to be hoisted on the pilgrimage vehicle even if there are monks in it.
(b)    Without sound religious reason, the Sasana flag cannot be hoisted at the road sides, junctions, vehicle gates, airports, jetties, markets, stations and other places.
(c)        No one must show disrespect to the Sasana flag. No improper behaviour must be tolerated regarding the flag. The flag must not be inclined towards persons or things.
(d)    The Sasana flag is not allowed to be torn, stained or destroyed in any way.
(e)        No department is allowed to use the Sasana flag as the over-hanging covering of a pavillion.
(f)        The Sasana flag is not allowed to be used as wrapper, trademarks, advertisements or designs on billboards.
(g)    Wallposters and pamphlets are not allowed to be struck or hung on the post on which the Sasana flag is being hoisted.
(h)    When handling the Sasana flag, it is not allowed to be wrapped or fastened.
(i)        When using the Sasana flag, it must not touch the ground, the surface of water, the floor of things which are under the flag.
(j)        At all times, the Sasana flag must never be used as ground-covers, mats or carpets.
(k)    Above the Sasana flag, no other flags must be hoisted.
(l)        The Sasana flag, can be hoisted at the consceration ceremonies of images, holy monuments and statues as a sacred symbol. But the images, the monuments and the statues must not be covered with the flag.
(m)    The Sasana flag must never be thrown away for whatever reason. If the flag becomes torn, soiled and useless, it must be burned respectfully.
All Buddhists will have to be aware of sailent points in using the Sasana flag to honour the dignity of the emblem. We wish to express our desire to maintain the dignity and sacredness of the Sasana flag by urging all Buddhists to follow the correct procedures and to avoid even the slightest unseemly manner and behaviour towards the sacred emblem.

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