Nov 182017
 

November 2017

dsc_6783This is the highest ranking Buddhist in the town of Kushinigar, he is Burmese and he was celebrating his 82nd birthday.

dsc_6786

Nelson Chama, member of the Board of Directors of LBDFI and a resident of Rio de Janiero

After cutting his cake he fed the honored people surrounding him, it was really sweet, and yes, I was also honored with a bite of cake by his hand.

Stanzin found these young nuns as adorable as I did and brought them extra cake with lots and lots of frosting

Stanzin found these young nuns as adorable as I did and brought them extra cake with lots and lots of frosting

The closing ceremony for the Tipitaka Chanting ceremony included a walk by all the participants to the Rhamabhar Stupa which marks where Buddha was cremated.

dsc_6665

It is always quite a site to see two columns of monks walking for several miles along the busy streets of any town.

dsc_6692

After circumambulating the stupa twice they stood on the lawn and chanted for quite a while.  It was a lovely, lovely moment.

dsc_6714

We have two young monks traveling with us from Thailand that have been carrying statues of Buddha with them everywhere.  Taking these statues to the holy sites imbues them with goodness and holiness.  I caught this intimate and sweet moment where they were placing the Buddha’s on the stupa and praying.  They both will take these statues to their parents the next time they see them.

People place lotus flowers, candles and gold at most holy Buddhist sites.

People place lotus flowers, candles and gold at most holy Buddhist sites.

The march to the stupa was followed by a quick ceremony at the Royal Thai Temple.

dsc_6758

The grounds and the classic Thai architecture of this monastery are breathtaking.  I understand the Queen has had much to do with the building of the temple, but their website is in Thai so I was not able to get much information.  They also, apparently, have stunning accommodations, but you must be a Thai citizen to utilize them.

Dr. Jaran and Javana, both Thai high ranking monks asked that I take their picture in this stunning building.

Dr. Jaran a high ranking Thai monk and U Javana, a high ranking Burmese monk asked that I take their picture in this stunning building.

dsc_6769

Nov 162017
 

November 2017

Kushinigar is a pilgrimage site because this is where Buddha took his last breath.

Our first day in Kushinigar was amazing. It began with a parade. Granted it was a parade of Buddhists, but the town is only a few blocks long with just one street so the whole town participated in its own way.

The Siada is a Burmese monk

The town’s head monk is Burmese

The parade began on the grounds of the Thai temple

The parade began on the grounds of the Thai temple.  Notice the adorable little boy clinging to his mother.

dsc_5815

No amount of coaxing could get him to go with his grandmother and not interrupt the parade.

Just one of the many stunning buildings at the Thai Temple Compound

Just one of the many stunning buildings at the Thai Temple Compound

The first four hours of the program was various government officials expounding upon something. I have no idea, I do not speak Hindi. Some of them were Hindus and that seems awkward to me, but this is still a country that feels that 15 political speeches before an event are something everyone is excited to do, and then they pose for those kinds of photos with everyone smiling and pretending they are so very thrilled to pose for the photo. I wonder if they get this from the British or if it is part of a young country.

dsc_6044

The venerable monks that presided over the first day of chanting.

dsc_6048The afternoon was spent listening to chanting from each of the countries. There is such a huge difference between the countries, some are very hard to listen to. The “moderator” wanted to make sure each country got a chance, so instead of waiting for the usual end where the monks say Sadu Sadu Sadu, he just pulled the plug on their microphone. It was always so funny to watch the monks all look at each other like “what happened”.

dsc_6018Sadu is said three times at the end of many things in Buddhism. It is really a way of saying “nicely done” and the audience says it at the same time as the monks. You can sort of equate it to Amen in the Christian religions.

dsc_6047

Lamphone Leut Oudomsone and Jiengkham Ravavong from our group representing Laos.

Sanyot Rattanapanyakon and Jaran Suthi the two strongest Thai chanters joined the Laotians about half way through

Sanyot Rattanapanyakon and Jaran Suthi the two strongest Thai chanters joined the Laotians about half way through

We have two Laotians with us. They were the only two, and it was nice for them to finally be acknowledged as Laotian, they have been grouped with the Thais the entire time. What was so very sweet to me was to watch two of the stronger Thai chanters join the Laotians so their voices were stronger. They all really do support each other.

Carrying the cloth to the Buddha

Carrying the cloth to the Buddha

After the chanting was over the monks did a candlelight ceremony circumambulating the stupa and placing a cloth over the Buddha.

Laying the cloth on the Buddha

Laying the cloth on the Buddha

This Buddha was donated to the location in the 400s, and it amazes me that it still exists, that tomb raiders didn’t steal it or that the Muslim’s didn’t destroy it, possibly simply because this is such a remote location.

On the second day the nun's laid a robe on Buddha during the candlelight ceremony

On the second day, the nun’s laid a cloth on Buddha during the candlelight ceremony

Everyday pilgrims come and lay coverings over the Buddha. I had the opportunity to watch just one shift, of what I think was at least three, where the monks remove the cloths and get back down to the gold sheet.

Monks removing the many blankets that had accumulated in just a few hours

Monks removing the many blankets that had accumulated in just a few hours

This gold robe covers the Buddha and is all one sees of the body of the Buddha

This gold robe covers the Buddha and is all one sees of the body of the Buddha

I was utterly amazed at how many were taken off, I have asked what happens to them, and most everyone figured the cloth was donated, but for what or to whom none of us really know.

This was a very visual day so I will leave you with photos to help you see what I saw.

dsc_5789

*

The gentlemen hit the gong fairly consistently, at one point I was standing next to it, and it was very, very loud

The gentlemen hit the gong fairly consistently, at one point I was standing next to it, and it was very, very loud

dsc_5858

*

Our police escort

Our police escort

dsc_5917

*

Entering onto the grounds of the Kushinigar stupa

Entering onto the grounds. You can see the Kushinagar stupa in the background

Some of the sights along the parade route.  As I said the whole town participated just be being there.

dsc_5911

*dsc_5919 *dsc_5984 *dsc_5922

Lighting the butter lamps

Lighting candles

The ceremonial tent

The ceremonial tent

dsc_6082 *dsc_6085

*

The feet of Buddha. If you look closely you will see the Dharma wheel on the soles of his feet

The feet of Buddha. If you look closely you will see the Dharma-wheel on the soles of his feet

dsc_6162

*dsc_6295

*dsc_6127

*dsc_6196