- By Maha Saddhamma Jotikadhaja, Sithu Dr. Khin Maung Nyunt
‘Tavatimsa Pwe’ or Simee. Myint-Moe Pwe is the traditional name of the Light Festival of Thadinkyut [October] the 7th month of Myanmar Lunar Calendar. Thadinkyut means Buddhist Lent. Kyut means “over”. So the meaning of the word Thitin Kyut is the Buddhist Lent is over. The above two traditional names of this festival Tavatimsa Pwe and Simee Myint Moe Pwe epitomize the great event in th life time of Lord Buddha. After delivering the essence of his dhamma teachings in the form of Abdhimma to Santussita deva in the celestial kingdom of Tavatimsa who was Buddha’s mother Maha Maya, Chief Queen of King Suddodana of Kapilavathu kingdom. The Buddha returned to Earth. Lord Buddha did that delivery, as his noble filial duty to his mother whom he owned bound lees boundless gratitude for conceiving him in her womb and giving him birth and breast milk feed on finishing his delivery, Lord Buddha returned to Earth on full moon night of Thadinkyut. Attended and accompanied by Brahams, Sakka and devas, Lord Buddha descended in full state and regalia to Earth where SAnkassa Nagara City was awaiting to welcome Lord Buddha.
Buddhists commemorate full moon day of Thadinkyut as Abhidhamma Day. In modern par lane it should be Buddha’s Modern Day or Mother’s Day in Myanmar in our times the UNO marks World’s Mother Day, Father Day, Teachers Day, Old aged Day etc.. Buddha had already marked full moon Thadinkyut “Mother’s Day” for all human beings.
As the Buddha set his foot on earth at the city gate of Sankassa Nagara welcoming crowds carried oil lamps to provide light. In essence the oil lamps light represents the Light of Buddha’s dhamma to enlighten the humans in the darkness of ignorance with the help of his disciple Saint monk Ashin Saripatra, he spread the essence of the Abhidhamma the delivered to his mother in Tavatimsa.
So the traditional name of Thadinkyut Light Festival Tavatimsa Pwe and Simee Myint Moe Pwe are apt and appropriate in name as well as in essence for us today. We should celebrate not only ceremonial aspect of “Light” festival of Thadinkyut but also its dhamma essence the light of Buddha’s Dhamma teachings to drive away the darkness of ignorance and become enlightened.
We Buddhists should never miss the Abhidhamma Day observed on full moon day of Thadinkyut. It is not easy to understand Buddha’s Abhidhamma. To see and understand reality behind illusions, you need teaching, training understanding, realizing and yourself actually practicing. Never Miss Abdhimma classes held at Dhamma Centers across the country. A person who has attended and has done some practices is entirely a new man, regardless of his, position, rank, crees or race. He looks extraordinarily different from others in many good ways.
Two other rites held in this month are (1). Pawarana and (2) Puja. Pawarana is performed by monks only whereas Pujas is by both monks and laity. Full moon day of Thidinkyut which is the end of Buddhist Lent is the day and date fixed for Pawarana. Pujas is performed on any day and date in the month of Thidinkyut but mostly on the first waning moon it is performed.
The origin of Pawarana dates back to the life time of Lord Buddha while he was residing at Jetavana Vihara in Savathi City, a party of monks observed their Lent at a village in Kosala Kingdom. These monks believed that unity and happiness among them could be achieved by not talking to one another because talking could cause argument and conflict and finally dispute. So they kept mum throughout the Lent period. Speech is silver but Silence is gold. When the Lent was over they visited Lord Buddha and paid him respect and homage.
Lord greeted them by asking about their health, happiness and unity during the Lent. The monks explained how they kept mum so as to gain unity and happiness.
Lord Buddha objected to their way of gaining happiness and unity saying that keeping mum was like a dumb and that kind of behavior was disrespectable to the devotees, donors and supporters of Sangha. The monk who behaves like a dumb is sinful. The best way to achieve unity and happiness among monks was by means of Pawarana by inviting all monks to assemble and letting each monk by turn ask other monks to point out if he has been seen, heard or suspected committing any sin, and if so, letting other monks reprimand the sinful monk. By so doing the sin monk will be repented by promising not to repeat that sin and all monks pardoned him. So all monks will live in harmony, unity and happiness.
In our attempts to build a peaceful prosperous and progressive state in our country Myanmar’ we are applying democratic methods and producer. Democracy is “the government of the people, by the people and for the people.” To achieve that kind of government we need unity, harmony and happiness of each and all . Responsibility, accountability, dutifulness and transparency are the fundamentals of “Paranawa of our time.”
Both the government and the people together need unity, harmony and happiness. So the government and people both must be “responsible” “accountable” “dutiful” to each other and transparent to each other day being able to do everything public, not to hide any public welfare work and being able to face censure. The three pillars of Democracy, the Legislature [Parliaments] the Executives [The Government and all administration bodies] and the Judiciary [all Law courts] should be independent though with the inherent duty of check and balance among them.
Pujas to the Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha, Parents, Teachers and Superiors and Friends which we Buddhists perform in Thidinkyut Festival also have relevance in our time. In pujas, the givers of pujas are not Buddhists only. They include followers of other Faiths [Religious] so also the recipients of pujas are not Myanmar Buddhists only. They include those of other Faiths. In Myanmar, members of the Government and members of the people profess different Faiths. But they are the recipients of Thidinkyut Pujas and performers of Thidinkyut Pujas.
At schools, colleges, universities, across the country and offices of the Government, NGOs and INGOs in Myanmar Thidingyut pujas are held in the spirit of Pawarana Pujas performers humbly beg pardon for sins (wrong doing) physically, or verbally or mentally committed against the pujas recipients and promise not to repeat them. The pujas recipients reply that they pardon them and exclaim their elations by uttering Sadu, Sadu, Sadu (well done, well done, well done).
We should observe and practice the good traditions of our Thidinkyut Festival as well as their good relevancies in modern times.