As part of our ongoing celebrations of different world religions and cultures, we observed Wesak or ‘Buddha Day’ at our Support Group today. Wesak is the celebration of the life, enlightenment and death of Buddha. It is the most important of all Buddhist festivals.
Our Peer Mentors led this event, and had been working hard to organise decorations for the day, and to get all of our residents to make paper lanterns to use within the celebration, reflecting traditions from Thailand and Indonesia.
During the support group, we took part in several activities, such as ‘bathing Buddha’ in scented water from wooden bowls. We used this time to reflect on the tradition of purifying our minds and releasing our negative thoughts. We also adapted the tradition of released caged birds, symbolising letting our troubles go free, by blowing bubbles around the room.
Our Support Group took turns to add their own colours to a mandala that was passed around the group, which looked beautiful when it was finished. After this, we sat down to share a vegetarian meal which had been cooked by our Peer Mentors and the Support Group listened to one of our women talking to us about their Buddhist beliefs and practices, to help us all get a greater understanding of the Buddhist principles.
We finished the morning off by having a group meditation practice, led by one of the staff, which encouraged us to focus on compassion and love. This moment of calm and quiet was really popular with the group.
Everyone had a fabulous morning, where we shared a lot of love and laugher, as well as growing in our knowledge about this culture and world belief. One attendee to the group said that ‘this morning felt like I was home, like I was part of a family gathering’.
Our next celebration will be in June, where we will learn more about the Islamic tradition of Eid.