In countries where Mahayana Buddhism is the most dominant religion, January is the month of celebration. Just like how other people celebrate New Year during the first of January, the Mahayana Buddhists also celebrate their own New Year every first full moon of January.
About Mahayana New Year
The largest branch of Buddhism is Mahayana. The other one being Theravada. Mahayana Buddhists believe that any person can achieve enlightenment in his current lifetime. They also believe that enlightenment is can be achieved not only by nuns and monks but also by ordinary Buddhists. The goal of the religion is to help people achieve enlightenment through good deeds and by following the teachings of Buddha.
Mahayana Buddhism is the most dominant religion in Eastern and Northern Asia which includes the countries of China, Japan, Korea, Tibet, and Mongolia. Key traditions include Chinese Chan, Korean Seon, Tiantai, Zen, Pure Land, and Nichiren. Just like in other religions, New Year is a big celebration for Mahayana Buddhists. However, the date of celebration may vary by tradition or by country. Most Mahayana Buddhists celebrate their New Year during the first full moon of January. Others celebrate it on the 31st of December or the 1st of January.
Mahayana means Great Vehicle. It is also a term that points to certain Buddhists practices and philosophies. Together with Theravada, it is one of the two main branches of the Buddhism religion. These two branches vary in certain ways.
First source of variation is the region, area, or country. As mentioned above, Mahayana Buddhism is most prominent in Northern and Easter Asian Countries. On the Other hand, Theravada Buddhism is most prominent in Southeast Asian countries including Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand. They are the ones that closely follow the original form of Buddhism. In fact, Theravada Buddhism places a great importance of the language of Pali in worship, which is the birth language of Siddhartha Gautama or Buddha.
On the other hand, people who practice Mahayana Buddhism have absorbed the customs of their local areas. They believe that enlightenment can be achieved by anyone, not just by monks. They believe that through service, a person can achieve enlightenment and people can also help others achieve Nirvana as well.
As mentioned above, the date of the Mahayana New Year may vary by tradition and by country. There are some Mahayana Buddhists who celebrate this day every 31st of December or 1st of January. But more commonly, Mahayana Buddhists celebrate this special day every first full moon of January. This means that the upcoming Mahayana New Year will be celebrated on Thursday, January 28th, 2021.
The following are the main reasons why you should participate in the celebration of Mahayana New Year:
To Celebrate Your Unique New Year as a Mahayana Buddhist
If you are a Mahayana Buddhist yourself, then it is all the more reason for you to celebrate the Mahayana New Year. This is the opportune time for you to bond with your family and friends and join all the possible fun-filled activities held during this day.
Also Read: Buddhist Holidays
To Celebrate with a Mahayana Buddhist Friend or Relative
If you are not a Mahayana Buddhist, you are still welcome to take part in the celebration. you may have a relative or a friend who is a Mahayana Buddhist. If so, then you can join them in celebrating this special day wherein they welcome a new year ahead of them.
To Know More About Mahayana Buddhism
If you want to know more about Mahayana Buddhism, then you should definitely join in the celebration of this day. You can learn more about the start and origin of the religion as well as the holiday.
Celebration Ideas and Activities
The following are the best things to do to make your celebration of the Mahayana New Year as best as it can be:
Pray and Glorify Buddha
Of course, to state the obvious one, perhaps the best way of celebrating this day is by praying and glorying Buddha. This celebration is all about his life and new beginnings. You should pray for a successful year ahead of you with his guidance.
Visit a Temple
Just like what most people would do, you can also celebrate this day by visiting the nearest local Buddhist temple. There, aside from praying, you can also make some offerings to the monks and the temple. Just remember to strictly follow the rules of the temple.
Bathe a Buddha Statue
Also a common activity for this day is bathing the Buddha Statue. People believe that this practice enables one to wash away all negative thoughts. To do this, you can pour water over your Buddha statue and think clearly about your negative thoughts then focus on the good sides.
Celebrate on Social Media
You can also bring your celebration of this day on social media. For example, you can use the hashtag #MahayanaNewYear to let your friends and followers know that you are also participating in the celebration of this day.
Mahayana New Year Messages and Inspirational Quotes
- “…we look for happiness in all the wrong places. The Buddha called this habit ‘mistaking suffering for happiness,’ like a moth flying into a flame.” – Pema Chödrön
- “All that we are is the result of what we have thought. If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him. If a man speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows him, like a shadow that never leaves him.” – Buddha
- “An idea that is developed and put into action is more important than an idea that exists only as an idea.” – Buddha
- “The ego’s root feeling is that if I do not hold myself together there will be a falling apart into something chaotic and difficult. So there is anxiety, an energetic anxiety which is located in the body, in the whole energetic system of the body and interpersonal turbulence reminds us again and again ‘If I don’t keep it together, I will get in trouble’.” – Dalai Lama
- “Do not overrate what you have received, nor envy others. He who envies others does not obtain peace of mind.” – Buddha