Jul 7, 2016
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Buddhist Festivals in Bangladesh


Bimalendu Barua: Through the passage of time from primitive age to the modern scientific society, man has been observing the rituals, religious festivals and cultural functions with due fervor and solemnity. Buddhism, old as civilization, offers many kinds of festivals and rituals which have been the essential parts for the human beings in their everyday life. The predominant festivals obseved by Buddhist Community in Bangladesh are Buddha Purnima (Full moon day of Vaisak), Ashari Purnima (Full moon day of Ashar), Madhu Purnima (Full moon day of Bhadra), Pravarana Purnima (Full moon day of Ashwin), Maghi Purnima,  Falguni Purnima,  Katin Chibardana (Yellow robes offering ceremony) and Chaitra Sankranti (year ending day ceremony and new year coming). In this festivals Buddha Puja and mass prayer are must. The main elements of worship to the Buddha are pure water, incense, candles, flowers, fruits, different foods etc. The foods offered to Buddha image as worship are never taken by the devotees; rather these are distributed to the poor. The main hymn uttered in the worship is called Trisaran i.e. to take refuge under Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. In the orayer Panchasila i.e. five precepts taking is also an essential factor.

Buddha Purnima (Full moon day of Vaisak):

This is the prime festival for the Buddhists. On this day Prince Goutam was born at Lumbini Garden near Kapilabastu about two thousand and six hundred years ago. Miraculously on this day in the same full moon he attained the supreme enlightenment (Bodhi) under Bodhi tree at age of 35. He passed away in Kushinagar on the same day when he was eighty. So, this festiva is marked by these tree remembrances. This festival is considered to be holy and scred not only for the Buddhist community but the human beings at large. The Buddhist , on the day, say their prayres in their nearest temples putting on new clothes. Specials worship are also held at the houses. Religious discussions, hearing and reading of Buddha hymns taking of Panchasila (the five precepts) and poor feeding are the parts of this festivals.

  Ashari Purnima (Full moon of Ashar):

It is another important festivals for the Buddhists. On this day Goutama left home in search of enlightenment leaving behind his family with all its bonds and affections. Buddha also first preached his supreme knowledge. He attained after six years continuous mediation to his disciples at Ishipatan in Baranosi on this day. The disciples were five in number Kondinya, Bappa, Bhadriya, Mahanama and Ashwajit.

Besides, on this day Mahamaya Goutam’s mother dreamt that a white elephant entered into her womb piercing her right side. From this very day the monks start their three month long Barshabrata ( to confine oneself to a place during rainy season). Special prayres are held in the temples on the occasion.

  Bhadra Purnima (Full moon of Bhadra):

Also known as Madhu Purnima. At this time Buddha passed his life in exile. It is said that a huge elephant nursed him. At that time and a monkey worshipped him by giving honey. So, this is also called  Madhu Purnima. In this day lay Buddhists offer honey and medicines to the monks.

Ashwini Purnima (Full moon of Ashwin):

It is also called  Pravarana Purnima. On this auspicious day Buddha told his disciples to preach the religion for the welfare and happiness of the multitude. On this day the three month long Barshabrata (Rainy season’s confinement) of the monks is over and Katin Chibar dana (Yellow robes offering ceremony)  beings.

Maghi Purnima (Full moon of Magh):

On this day Boddha by his enlightened power foretold his time of compete emancipation ((Mahaparinivana). On this severa Mela (congregation and fairs) are held in many Buddhist holy places in Bangladesh.

Fulguni Purnima (Full moon of Fulgun):

It also auspicious day as on this day Buddha after attaining his supreme knowledge came to his royal palace home and consecrated his father Suddhnanda. His only son Rahula and others into his new religion. On this day Mela (congregation and fairs) is held in Chittagong. Apart from this dominant festivals and auspicious days there are other rituals like the followings which have also been celebrated from the time immemorial.

Phalanx Circle Fair:

This fair is usually seen in Chittagong. The phalanx circle fair is like a maze game, very difficult for a person to make away out of it. This fair is held on the month of Kartick-Agrahayana. In the Buddhist villages of Bangladesh this fair is very popular.

Wish-Yielding Tree Festival:

The Buddhist community of Bangladesh celebrates this festival in the mont of Ashwin-Kartik at the time of Katin Chibardana (Yellow robes offering ceremony). The Buddhist think this tree as a heavenly tree. This symbolic tree is placed and the wish-colds of the heart are tied to its branches for their fulfillment.

 Katin Chibardana (Yellow robes offering ceremony):

It is an attractive festival of the Buddhist of Bangladesh when and where the yellow robes are offered to the Monks by the devotees after the Prabarana Purnima is over and when the three month long Brashbrata (Lent period of rainy season) ends. This ceremony continuous one month i.e. up to Kartiki Purnima.

  • This article was published from book of “A BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF BUDDHISM IN BANGLADESH’’ by Bimalandu Barua.
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