Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Honey Moon Offering Ceremony (LA)

Wisdom Quarterly
The Buddha being served by a monkey and elepphant in the forest ( He received offerings of honey and service from an elated monkey and a forlorn elephant in Parileyya forest. These events are now celebrated annually in Los Angeles.

KOSAMBI, India - The Buddha once retreated into Parileyya (Parileyyaka) Forest in a peaceful attempt to reunite two monastic factions who were locked in a heated debate about disciplinary rules. (The minor question being disputed was, Should water pots be left unemptied?)

The intransigent disciples could not be reasoned with. So the Buddha went into solitary retreat as subtle encouragement for them to work out their differences.

While in the wilderness alone, a monkey offered him a honeycomb. It was so elated that the Buddha accepted it that it jumped around wildly and, falling on a tree stump, accidentally died.

It was, according to tradition, immediately reborn in the World of the Thirty-Three as a fruit of its sharing.

It may seem a disproportionate result for such a small act of generosity. But the power of karma is conditioned by more than intention and the size of the gift or deed. Its weight has a great deal to do with the virtue of the recipient. Karmic resultants and fruit will depend on the state of mind of the giver; being happy looking forward to a deed, while performing it, and afterward when reflecting on what was done also magnifies its power.

During the same retreat the Buddha was also offered fruit and attended to by an elephant who, tired of communal life, had abandoned its herd. The monastics soon settled their differences and together with Ananda went into the forest to ask the Buddha to return.

The Buddha receives an offering of honey from a monkey at Parileyyaka (wikimedia).

When the Buddha agreed, the elephant, Parileyyaka, is said to have died of a broken heart. It was also reborn in the happy space (celestial) World of the Thirty-Three. (It is interesting to not that Siddhartha's white horse, Kanthaka, similarly died of heartbreak when Siddhartha left him to renounce the world and enter a quest for enlightenment).

Honey Moon Offering Celebrations
Buddhists from India and Bangladesh (ancient Vanga, a province with Buddhist traditions going back to the time of the Buddha, which until 1947 was part of India) celebrate a special full-moon observance called Madhu Purnima in honor of these extraordinary events.

Celebrations occur in the Indian state of West Bengal state, particularly Calcutta, and in Bangladesh, formerly the Indian state of East Bengal -- in Chittagong for Barua Bangladeshi Buddhists and in the Hill Tracts for Chakma Bangladeshi Buddhists.

Bangladesh has Buddhists?
Bangladeshi Buddhists trace their original homeland to the region surrounding the Buddha's enlightenment, Bodh Gaya, India. A Honey Offering Full Moon Observance is held every year in the month of Bhadro (August/September on the Asian lunar calendar).

It is celebrated as a joyous day of unity and charity to temples emphasizing the giving of honey and fruit.

9/11/11 Commemoration

Bangladeshi-American Buddhists in Los Angeles will observed the full-moon day on Sunday, 9/11. Monks, nuns, lay Buddhists, and guests will gather for celebrations, ancient Buddhist chanting, and the offering of sweets. Honey is symbolic of love, altruistic loving-kindness, amity, compassion, and affection.

It also reminds us of our interdependence with the animal world.

In the last year Ven. Karunananda, Ph.D. has successfully established the first Indian Buddhist temple in Los Angeles. A permanent location in urban Long Beach is now home to the California Bodhi Vihara at 1023 E. 21st Street.

The new abbot, who for many years resided in Pasadena's Los Angeles Buddhist Vihara (a Sri Lankan Theravada tradition monastery), has made a home for expats and American seekers in coastal Los Angeles.

The temple/monastic residence (vihara) now holds events that uniquely express Bengali Buddhist traditions -- such as the honey moon offering in an area with various Cambodian Buddhist temples and an American Zen Center (Yokoji).

Help maintain this Indian-Buddhist treasure in Los Angeles by volunteering or donating to its maintenance and the spread of the Dharma: