Dana in Buddhism’ DANA’ (Gift) is a great virtue. Whatever good and welfare activities are done by men, Dana is the most significant. Dana has a special place in Buddhism. Buddhism is based on three types of good deeds, i.e. Dana, Sila and Meditation. In the previous class, we have known about Dana, characteristics of Dana, materials of gift and good effects of dana. In this post, we will read about Buddhist religious ceremonies relating to gift, its story and significance.
Introduction to Dana ceremonies
The Buddhists observe various religious gift ceremonies. For example, dana, austapariskar dana, Kathin Cibar Dana etc. In these dana ceremonies, gifts are primarily given to the Bhikkhu Sangha. Many people assemble in the ceremonies and offer gift. The Buddhists offer a gift to destroy greed, envy, illusion, to earn virtues and to get salvation. Dana ceremonies are organized for the salvation of the deceased relatives.
Among the above-mentioned dana ceremonies, Sangha dana and Austapariskar dana can be done at any time. There is no fixed day for this, the donor can do sangha dana and Austapariskar dana at any time according to necessity and ability. The kathin Cibar Dana is celebrated in different monasteries every day every year at the end of Barsabas from Prabarana Pumima for one month.
Sangha Dana is one of the most important of the religious ceremonies of the Buddhists. The gift which is given to the Bhikkhu Sangha is called the Sangha Dana. The Buddhists believe that, it is more fruitful to give gift to sangha than to a monk.
Giving a gift to Bhikkhu Sangha has been called as the greatest virtuous place in the book “Cullabuga”. This gift ceremony can be organized at any time. Monk, devotee (male/female) anyone can organize sanghadana individually or collectively in the monastery or in own household. Generally, devotees (male/female) organize sanghadana in own households. The Buddhist organize sanghadana at the beginning of any good deed such as marriage, building a new house, the beginning of the business, foreiB1 travel, the ceremony of putting the rice to a child’s mouth for the first time, medically etc. But organizing sanghadana is a must when anybody dies in a family. The Buddhists believe that due to sanghadana the deceased gets salvation. Minimum five monks are to be present for a sanghadana. The Bhikkhu Sangha is to be invited before sanghadana. It is better to have more monk in a sanghadana.
Generally the daily essentials of Bhikkhusangha are donated in the sanghdana. The daily essentials are: food, cloth, medicine, soap, oil, umbrella, nidddle and thread. Generally, sanghadana is offered before taking meal by the monks. The gift materials are kept nicely before the monks at the time of sanghadana. The activities of sanghadana begin after the monks take their seats properly. A senior monk is selected as chairman from amongst the bhikkhusangha to conduct the sanghadana. The activities of the ceremony begin as per permission of the chairman. Firstly, prayer for Panca sila including trisaran is done. Then, chairman or an experienced monk recites stanza of sanghadana thrice.
The stanza is as follows:
“Emang Bhikkhang Saparikkharang Bhikkhu Sanghassa Dema, Pujema”
English translation: “Worshipping, donating this essential food items to Bhikkhusangha. ”
Everybody present recite the stanza thrice at a time. Therefore, Bhikkhu sangha recite Karaniya Mai try Sutra, Mangal Sutra etc. Then, (“Edang Ma Y antinang Hotu, Sukhita Hontu, Y antayo Nibbanassa Paccayo Hotuti”) This virtue may be reasons of welfare of my relatives, the relatives may be happy, may be reasons of salvation. By reciting the dedication stanza thrice, the virtuous effects of sanghadana are to donate for relatives. The dedication stanza is known as virtue approval stanza. While reciting dedication stanza, one member of the donor family, sacrifices the virtues for the deceased relatives including all living being and deities by pouring water. Buddha has high appreciation for the effects of sanghadana. He said, the earth, seas and poles etc. perish over the years. But the acquired virtues achieved due to sanghadana do not diminish by hundred thousands of years.
Social Significance of Gift Ceremony
The social significance of gift is boundless in Buddhism. Giving gift is a noble quality of man. The gift ceremony plays an important role to flourish this quality. The habit of gift develops through the gift ceremony. Pride, miserliness, greed, envy, illusion etc. disappear. The generosity of mind increases. Motivation is created to render helping hand in times of the danger of others. Kindness, into restlessness, amity and love etc human qualities develop. Gift, sila and meditation practice gives men relief from sorrows. Without fulfilling gift para mi, one cannot proceed for nirban. That is why gift parami has been given the first posi-tion amongst ten paramis. The gift ceremony subject to the fulfillment of gift paramis helps men to be lead into the path of nirban. We have known by reading gift story that if the gift is given by practicing sila and with generous mind, that is considered as best one. The money earned by honest means earns more results as a gift. Donor and receiver both are to be silaban in Buddhism. Gift ceremony helps to be silaban and just. Relatives, friends and neighbors participate in the gift ceremony. As a result, mutual communication and exchange of ideas take place. The social relationship becomes firm. A good relationship is established. Misunderstanding and envy disappear. As a result, peace prevails in society. Many noble activities can be done by the gift in the society, such as education and religious institutions, hospitals, orphanage, roads, bridges, and ponds etc. Limbs and parts of the body can also be donated. As a result of this gift, many men are saved from death. The blind man gets back eye-sight. As a result, it can be said that, the gift ceremonies help to promote moral and human qualities and play an important role in social development. That is why all should organize and join in the gift ceremonies.