Full moon has always fascinated mankind – there is the werewolf, doing its grisly deeds on full moon nights, and all the other different myths about the wonderous powers of full moon. Full moons are important for Buddhists, as Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and death are said to have happened during those times. In Sri Lanka, every full moon is a holiday. This Friday the 13th was a full moon day and night, and whilst for the West, the date had superstitious people expecting the worst, here in Boudha it was a special day for the Buddhists.
The day starts early with the Kora, in Tibetan Buddhism the ritual circumambulation around a sacred site, in this case the Grand Stupa – already on normal days, many Buddhists and tourists do the Kora, but this Friday, there are masses of people.
Some march with a stern, nearly grim expression on their face, as fast as they can, and hardly respect anyone trying to cross their way – faith is a very serious business, don’t dare to stop me! For me a strange contrast to the gentle Buddhism that is practiced here.
Generosity is an important part of Buddhism, today evidenced by feeding the pidgeons – despised as flying rats around the world, here they are lovingly nursed with food. Amazing: Although there are thousands, they aren’t really noticeable during the day – obviously, they thank their benefactors by NOT shitting on people’s head, which I find a very nice gesture.
But not only the pidgeons receive generosity today, on this Friday, the needy of the world group around the Stupa, begging for alms, which are readily provided.
During the heat of the day, it becomes quieter around the Stupa, until the evening, when the masses are returning for another Kora, this time in a festive mood, circumambulating around a beautifully illuminated monument.
And when it’s dark, butter lamps are lighted everywhere, with prayers for the loved ones, and – as this is Buddhism – for all sentient beings. One of the butter lamps was lighted by me.
A day filled with devotion and beauty.