THE ORIGIN OF BUDDHA’S DAY & THE SIGNIFICANCE OF BATHING OF THE BUDDHA
Sakyamuni Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, was born on April 8th, 623 B.C.E. in Lumbini, Kapilavatsu, northern India as Prince Siddhartha. Auspicious signs surrounded the Prince’s birth, who with one hand pointed towards the sky and the other towards earth proclaimed: “In heaven and on earth, I am the Supreme One.” This means that his last birth in the human world was for the purpose of becoming the Buddha, the Awakened One, to be the saviour of all sentient beings. As a youth, he enjoyed a sheltered and carefree life, until the day he ventured outside the palace. Beyond the palace walls, he found human misery, suffering and unhappiness. Troubled by the encounters, he renounced his family and palace at the age of twenty-nine in search of “the Truth”. After six years of self-cultivation, he attained enlightenments. For the remainder of his life, he travelled extensively around northern India spreading his teachings.
When we come together to celebrate the “Buddha’s Day”, we are celebrating the timeless and universality of Buddha’s teachings. Teachings that foster compassion and joyfulness, encourage freedom of thought and recognize the dignity and potential of the human mind, which are as relevant today as they were 2,500 years ago.
One of the world's greatest scientists, Albert Einstein declared that “If there is any religion that could cope with modern scientific needs, it would be Buddhism”. A former Prime Minister of Australia, Hon. Robert J. L. Hawke, in his book “Simply Living”, stated that “I was never on the point of embracing Buddhism but I found, and still find, it infinitely more satisfying than Judaeo-Christian philosophy”.
As we bathe the statue of Prince Siddhartha with this scoop of holy water in our hands, we shall pray sincerely to be rid of the defilements of greed, hatred and ignorance, so that our body, speech and mind may remain pure. Furthermore, we shall wish for a peaceful and harmonious society that is free from violence, dishonesty or evil.
With the merit gained from bathing of the Buddha, may we rid our minds of defilements, and at the same time cleanse and beautify our society and country, transform this land of suffering into one of bliss, and guide the stray and evil minds onto the path of virtue. This is the true meaning of "Bathing of the Buddha".