Mahayana New Year is an annual festival that is celebrated by the Buddhist community around the world. This year, Mahayana 2023 falls on Saturday, January 7. The term Mahayana is one of the two main branches of Buddhism and comprises Buddhist ideologies and philosophies. It is mostly practised in Northeast Asia — China, Japan, Tibet, Taiwan, Mongolia, and Korea. The largest branch of Buddhism is Mahayana, while the other one is Theravada. Countries have different ways of commemorating the occasion with customs and traditions depending on the region. Know History and All About the Day When Gautama Buddha Attained Enlightenment.
The Mahayana New Year dates differ for each country based on their customs and traditions. Mahayana Buddhists believe that enlightenment can be achieved during an individual’s single or current lifetime. While some Mahayana Buddhists observe the celebration on January 1, others wait for the full moon of January, which usually falls mid-January. Know Lord Buddha’s Four Noble Truths, History, Rituals of Asanha Bucha Falling on Ashadha Purnima.
History of Mahayana New Year
The history of Mahayana is still not clear, as there are numerous theories regarding its origin. The term Mahayana refers to ‘Great Vehicle’ as per Jan Nattier. Mahayana was originally an honorary synonym for Bodhisattva Vehicle, the vehicle of a bodhisattva seeking Buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings. The term Mahayana which points to certain Buddhist practices and philosophies was therefore adopted at an early date as a synonym for the path and the teachings of the bodhisattvas. According to historical records, among the earliest and most important references to Mahayana are those that occur in the Lotus Sutra dating between the 1st century BCE and the 1st century CE.
Mahayana Buddhism is most prominent in Northern and Easter Asian Countries, while Theravada Buddhism is most prominent in Southeast Asian countries, including Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand. Theravada Buddhism places great importance on the language of Pali in worship.
Significance of Mahayana New Year
On Mahayana New Year, people honour and worship the deities, particularly Buddha, on the auspicious occasion. On New Year’s Day, Buddhists visit a nearby temple to light up candles which are considered to bring happiness and good luck for the coming year. Mahayana New Year is an important occasion as it helps people ponder past mistakes and learn from them. The Buddhist New Year is also a time for self-reflection, encouraging people to improve themselves.
On this day, statues of Buddha are bathed and cleaned as a show of respect, and devotees offer prayers. Religious songs are also offered to the deities, and the celebration is marked with grand feasts and fireworks.
(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Jan 07, 2023 07:15 AM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website latestly.com).