Reading Time: 3 minutesGautama Buddha once said, “Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”
At this year’s 20th Buddha’s Day celebration in Melbourne in May, Buddhist followers, as well as members of the broader community, came together in a celebration of peace and happiness.
Organised by Buddha’s Light International Association of Victoria, the Victorian chapter of the worldwide BLIA founded by Venerable Master Hsing Yun, this annual two-day festival celebrated the diversity of Australia’s multicultural and multi-faith society.
The event featured traditional Buddhist ceremonies including prayers, a baby blessing ceremony, bathing of the little Buddha, meditation, twilight offerings, an alms round procession and purification ceremony. These took place alongside arts, music, cultural performances and spiritual wellbeing lectures from various groups representing cultures around the world.
The food stalls at the festival served a whole range of cuisine from the Buddhist lifestyle with mostly vegetarian recipes.
Buddha’s Day celebrates the birthday of Prince Siddhartha Gautama, who went on to become Sakyamuni Buddha, the founder of Buddhism.
Gautama Buddha, or simply Buddha, taught everyone how to live a happy and peaceful life. Buddhism is not about learning extraordinary principles, but about looking at and thinking about our own lives in a broader context.
Buddha’s Birthday is mostly celebrated on a full moon day in the month of Vaisakha on the Buddhist and Hindu calendars, and so is also sometimes known as “Vesak Day”.
In India, and neighbouring Southeast Asian countries, the festival is also known as Buddha Purnima, as ‘Purnima’ means full moon day in Sanskrit.
One of the major religions of the world, Buddhism began around 2,500 years ago in India when Siddhartha Gautama discovered how to bring happiness into the world.
At 29, Buddha realised that wealth and luxury did not guarantee happiness, so to find the key happiness he explored the different teachings religions and philosophies of the day. After six years of study and meditation he finally found ‘the middle path’ and was enlightened. He spent the rest of his life teaching the principles of Buddhism, called the Dhamma, the truth, until his death.
There are many different types of Buddhism, but what does not vary is the essence of the teaching. Buddhism teaches the interconnectedness of all things and in particular the law of Karma which refers to the idea that intentional actions have consequences for the agent, in this life and in future lives.
Buddha’s teachings show us how we can concentrate in the present instead of worrying about the past or dreaming of the future. It has great relevance in the present time, as we struggle to maintain harmony of the mind. These teachings show us a path to achieving inner peace.