By Nhat Quan
There are 12 months in a year, which adds up to 365 days. There are 12 times full moons. There are four major holidays in the year according to Buddhist tradition, the four full moon holidays are:
- The fifteen of the first moon.
- The fifteenth of the fourth moon
- The fifteen of the seventh moon, and
- The fifteen of the tenth moon
The full moon of the first lunar month is one of the four great full moon days of the year that Vietnamese people, especially Buddhists, often visit temples to worship Buddha, pray for peace in their families, harmony in rain and wind, peace in the country, and peace in the people.
In the past, the full moon festival in January is often called Late Tet, because well-off families continue to celebrate Tet and enjoy late blooming apricot and peach blossoms. Those who go to work far away to stay until the full moon day of January will go back to work. Those who are unlucky to be sick on the occasion of the New Year, after the New Year has returned to health or many mourning families have died on the occasion of the Lunar New Year, on this day they will make up for the New Year... Therefore, for a long time in the minds of Vietnamese people, the full moon of January has had the same meaning as the Lunar New Year.
However, according to Buddhist tradition, the full moon festival of January according to Buddhist tradition has two meanings:
- The first:
It is the anniversary of the Great Sangha Congress, and also the day the Buddha spoke the Liberation Sutra at the Sangha Assembly.
This is a rare incident that happened only once during the time of Shakyamuni Buddha. At that time, the Buddha was staying at the Bamboo Forest Monastery in Rajagaha. It was the full moon day of the month of Magha (January). Although there was no invitation, 1,250 holy monks gathered on their own. All of them are saints who testify to the four fruits of non-smuggling and emancipation and are ordained by the Buddha's call:
- Good-willed Bhikkhus
Those perfect blessings have returned and have come to sit around at the feet of the Great Enlightened One in absolute silence. By the way, the Buddha gave a lecture on the Essential Meaning of Liberation, the main idea of ​​the lecture is summarized in three sentences:
- Do not do evil deeds
But do good things
Always keep your mind pure
Buddha's simple yet profound words were received by noble souls. Under the bright moonlight in the bamboo garden, the enlightened voice is spoken by the enlightened person to an enlightened assembly. It was an unprecedented encounter.
Since then, the full moon of the first lunar month has entered the Buddhist festival. The full moon of January is therefore also called Dharma Day. Because the content of the Liberation Sutta is considered the principle of Dharma, this great celebration is called Dharma Jewel Day. Buddha Bao Day is the full moon day of the fourth lunar month, and Sang Bao Day is the full moon day of the seventh lunar month.
- The Second:
It is the anniversary that marks the day the Buddha announced the firmly established Dharma and the day the Buddha announced that he would pass away in the next three months.
Cause 49 years ago ...., when the Buddha sat in meditation under the Bodhi tree, at that time Mara-raja or Demon king appeared asking him to enter Nirvana, and the Buddha promised, when:
- I have enough great Sangha of holy disciples,
- When are people imbued with the Buddha's teachings?
Then I will enter nirvana. Therefore, after 49 years of Buddha's mission, Mara-raja or Demon King knew that the Buddha had a powerful Sangha, and everyone was imbued with the Buddha's Dharma, so he came and repeated the old Buddha's promise. So on the full moon day of the first lunar month that year, the Buddha promised to enter Nirvana in three months. Therefore, the full moon of January is also the anniversary of the Buddha's declaration that his religion is complete and perfect and that he will pass away in three months. After 49 years of preaching the Dharma, teaching the Sutras, and teaching the Way, the Buddha entered Nirvana. He was 80 years old that year.
After the Buddha entered Nirvana, the holy disciples still kept this spirit, so on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month, they returned to gather together, first to remember their Master, then to share experiences on the path of evangelization. Since then, it has become a Buddhist tradition, and when Buddhism was integrated into Vietnamese society, it became a good moral and good custom.
That is why on the full moon day of the first lunar month, many people believe that on that day Buddha, Bodhisattvas, and saints came to pagodas to prove the sincerity of Buddhists, adding to the joyful spring atmosphere, so the number of people going to the temple was larger. That's why it says:
- Worshiping Buddha all year round is not equal to going to Buddha on the full moon day of the first lunar month.
So no one told anyone, on this day Vietnamese people often go to pagodas, worship Buddha and eat vegetarian rice to pray for themselves and their families, for all peace and health all year round.
For most pagodas in Vietnam, the focus of the Lunar New Year Full Moon Festival is to pray for national peace, everyone's health, and prosperity in business. Therefore, more and more people come to pagodas, worship Buddha, and pray during the full moon festival in January, and this clearly shows the spirit of Buddhism and the nation of Vietnamese people.
From a cultural perspective, the full moon of the first lunar month is a big festival according to Vietnamese beliefs. As a purely agricultural country, January is the beginning of the month for farmers to prepare to go to the fields. Before going to the fields, they perform a ceremony to show their gratitude to their ancestors, to pray for favorable rain and wind, and to pray for a bountiful harvest year.
Some people also believe that these days, all Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, gods, and gods have descended to prove the good and evil deeds of human beings. Therefore, if on this day you fast, recite the Buddha's name, do meritorious deeds such as printing the Sutras, making offerings to the Three Jewels, making offerings to monks and nuns who keep the precepts, helping the poor, making offerings to repair damaged temples, etc., it will be proved by the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas that all karmas, afflictions, and calamities in the year will be eliminated, and live a more peaceful and blessed life!
If it is said that the full moon day of the seventh lunar month is the Ullambana festival to pray and dedicate to the deceased, then the full moon day of the first lunar month is the day to pray for peace for the living. Therefore, these days, as Buddhists, everyone knows, absolutely not to kill animals but only make vegetarian rice, sticky rice, and sweet rice, and do good deeds to dedicate to praying for grandparents, parents, spouses, children, and relatives to have all peace, happiness, successful business, stable career. If you don't do good deeds, but take this as the day to kill chickens, slaughter pigs, make offerings to your parents or grandparents, or make a feast, it will be disastrous. Not only is this not beneficial, but it also creates bad karma in the body. So you have to be very careful!
In folk with a large number of people following the custom of worshiping grandparents, the first full moon of the first lunar month is simply understood as the great full moon day. That is, the day is still a full moon day in the first lunar month, but depending on beliefs and professions, some families worship the Buddhas, and some families worship the god of land, the god of wealth, or the soul... But there are always offerings to ancestors, to show respect to grandparents, parents, thank you for protecting children's health and well-being.
Writers and poets, especially the elderly, enjoy each other with a cup of tea, a shared wine, and a chess board. The old men ate little, only hummed and talked about their favorite sentences, the successes, and failures in their livelihood, in the spiritual life of the Vietnamese.
As it was said once, depending on the economic conditions and customs of each family, the tray of offerings for the full moon in the first lunar month of each family and each region may be different. But all are to show the respect and gratitude of children and grandchildren for grandparents, ancestors, Buddha and wish for a peaceful and lucky year. There are two types of offerings: vegetarian offerings for the Buddha, and meat and fish offerings for ancestors.
In addition, if you are a Buddhist, you can go to the temple or sit in front of the Buddha altar at home chanting Samanta-mukha-parivartonam-avalokitesvara-vikurvana-nirdesa or the Medicine Sutra to pray for peace for your family and read a song praising the Buddha's merits. This shows the importance of the full moon day of the first lunar month in the spiritual life of Vietnamese people. Therefore, on this holiday, families are often very careful in buying offerings. Many people even go to the temple to pray for luck and peace, then perform the ceremony at home.
The full moon of the first lunar month is the first important holiday in a year for people. In life, many of you have no self-control, so you should believe in luck, good fortune, etc. So there are some taboos that you need to know to have a good year if avoided, it will be good for you and your family's luck:
- First, do not leave the bottom of the rice barrel in the house exposed, the empty rice box is like a famine in the house.
- Second, avoid carrying a lot of money and valuables with you. If you lose your money and valuables on this day, your fortune will be poor this year.
- Third, do not go to places with heavy negative energy such as graves, deserted places, or hospitals, especially for those in poor health.
- Fourth, avoid wearing white and black because these two colors are associated with the deceased. People who wear two colors black and white on this day are difficult to do anything.
- Fifth, do not dress sloppily, and do not wear torn clothes. According to the old belief, if the clothes are torn, next year you will be caught by bad luck.
- Sixth, avoid breaking, or damaging furniture in the house because it means that the next year's fortune will be lost.
- Seven, don't say bad words, swear, otherwise you will have a bad story.
- Eighth, abstain from lending money to others, if you lend it, you also give away your assets.
- Ninth, on this day parents should not yell at their children or speak loudly to their loved ones. If the family is loud on this day, it will make the family unlucky, and easy to happen some unwanted things.
- Tenth, abstain from fishing or killing animals on this day because according to the spiritual concept of Vietnamese people, the act of fishing on the full moon day will bring that person bad luck.
In short, the full moon of the first lunar month is the day that many people believe, is the time when the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas come to gather, so going to the Buddha's ceremony at the temple or institute on this day will have many blessings, overcome accidents, and eliminate diseases. Therefore, on the full moon day of the first lunar month, Vietnamese people attach great importance to it. Especially the thought that doing good will be blessed, and doing evil will reap bad results. Therefore, on this day, everyone avoids collisions from actions to words.
However, nowadays due to living conditions away from home, each family is flexible to worship ancestors and Buddhas on different days and times, but not necessarily on the full moon day of the first lunar month. One part expresses not forgetting good customs on the full moon day of the first lunar month, and part considers this an occasion for a family reunion, so many of you often choose when people are free and have as much time as possible, such as weekends. Although the date is not correct, they all show the common spirit of the children and grandchildren's respect and gratitude towards ancestors, grandparents, gods, and Buddhas.
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