Festival of Saga Dawa
The sacred festival of Saga Dawa, celebrated at Gangtok in the state of Sikkim, will be held on 15th June this year of 2017. This celebration specially belongs to the Mahayana Buddhists and is observed with great awe and respect. Saga means “the fourth” and Dawa refers to “month” in Tibetan. On this day, the people of Sikkim, especially the Mahayana Buddhists, collectively pay homage to the Lord in temples, for blessing them abundantly, especially for the supreme gift of life.
Saga Dawa Festival first originated in Tibet and perhaps the influence of the Buddhists in Sikkim created a grand celebration of the event in the state. Regarded as the Triple Blessed Festival, Saga Dawa is also considered as the most holy Buddhist festival. It is said to be three-fold-auspicious as it commemorates the Lord’s birth, enlightenment and salvation from this world. This festive day falls on the full moon day of the 4th month of the Buddhist lunar calendar (celebrated as Buddha Purnima in the rest of India). However, as per the English calendar, this festival is observed either at the end of May or early June.
Saga Dawa is a day for observing religious rites and the Sikkamese Buddhists pray in various monasteries throughout the auspicious month. Butter lamps are usually lit and the ceremony is followed by a colourful procession of monks chanting hymns, playing musical instruments and devotees carrying holy texts, portraits and statues of Lord Buddha. The pageant starts from the Tsuk-La-Khang Monastery and is taken out in Gangtok, as well as in other towns and villages of Sikkim. People gather in the streets to touch their heads with the holy scriptures in order to receive blessings. This is like one magnificent carnival of Sikkim and it is a wonderful time to visit Gangtok, live with the monks and feel the positive and enchanting vibes of the festival.
This period is a wonderful time for promoting good deeds and offering charity to the monasteries. It is believed that the good deeds done during this period get multiplied and bear fruits in the future. Plenty of activities and events are organised during this month with a goal of making the festival successful and wonderful.
Picture Credits – Saga Dawa procession and Lighting of lamps – Anirban Saha