Saka Dawa Festival : A Honors to Buddha Sakyamuni

Saka Dawa Festival : A Honors to Buddha Sakyamuni

In Tibetan language,  The term Saka refers to “Fourth”, and comes from Tibetan astrology. The Saka star is associated with the full moon of the fourth lunar month of the Tibetan calendar and Dawa refers to “Months”. When the Saga star appears in the sky during the fourth month of the Tibetian calendar, Tibetan Buddhists start to celebrate the most significant festivals called Saga Dawa Festivals. These festivals carry a religious significance according to Buddhism.  This festival honours Buddha Sakyamuni whose birth, enlightenment, and nirvana took place in the same month. 

The merit of any good deeds that you perform during this month are thought to be multiplied one hundred million times. 
So Saka Dawa is an excellent time to dedicate yourself to taking spiritually positive actions. 

During this month people used to be vegetarian, allowing the animals to be free and alive for their merits. The people eat only fruits and vegetables and refrain from consuming any animal products. People also even take animals and fishes and release them back into their wild habitats to attain merits for their kindness to the creatures. These acts are all part of the ways of attaining more merits during this month of merits.

Saka Dawa Duchen

The 15th day of this Saka dawa (Full Moon Night) is also called a saka Dawa Duchen. On this day, some good actions that are commonly taken to gain merit are as follows:

  •  Avoid having meat
  • Offering donation to Gumbas or to individuals monks
  • Praying and reciting mantras especially Buddha Shkyamuni’s mantra (Om Muni Muni Maha Muni ye Soha)
  • Helping and Giving money to beggars and needy people
  • Lighting butter lamps
  • Releasing animals that are going to be killed. E.g Fish
  • Doing Kora on any Holi palaces or stupas. (This means walking clockwise around a holy site while praying or reciting mantras).

The Eight Mahayana Precepts

The eight Mahayana Percepts are very common to take during Saka Dawa, especially on either the full moon day (Saka Dawa Duchen) or new moon day. Saka Dawa Duchen is consider as more powerful for accumulation of merit.

The 8 Mahayana precepts are:

  1. Don’t harm or take away anyone’s life.
  2. Don’t take other’s belongings without their permission.
  3. Avoid lying and deceiving others.
  4. Avoid having sex.
  5. Avoid consumption of alcohol, tobacco and recreational drugs.
  6. Avoid having more than one meal in a day.
  7. Be grounded, and avoid sitting on animal skins or on expensive beds.
  8. Be free of materialism. Avoid wearing jewellery, perfume, and make-up. Avoid singing, dancing or playing music with a mind of attachment.

Additional recommendations for Good Actions on Saka Dawa is Performing a puja for the Buddha Shakyamuni and having Nyung(Short retreat). “A two-day intensive practice that includes taking the 24-hour Mahayana precepts with the addition of complete fasting and silence on the second day.”

Wishing everyone you an auspicious Saka Dawa, 2024! from Moon and Dragon builder's Family.

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