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 town’s head monk is Burmese
The parade began on the grounds of the Thai temple. Notice the adorable little boy clinging to his mother.
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
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.
The venerable monks that presided over the first day of chanting.
The 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”.
Sadu 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.
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
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
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
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 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
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.
The gentlemen hit the gong fairly consistently, at one point I was standing next to it, and it was very, very loud
Our police escort
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.
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The ceremonial tent
The feet of Buddha. If you look closely you will see the Dharma-wheel on the soles of his feet