"Traditional Dances and Extensive Offerings at Amitabha Buddha Festival
On Saturday, October 1, the second Amitabha Buddha Festival was held at Buddha Amitabha Pure Land in rural Washington State, US. About 60 people, which included neighbors, local students and guests from out-of-town, attended the celebration, which began at 9 a.m. and lasted until 5 p.m. The festival was envisioned by Lama Zopa Rinpoche to honor the large Amitabha Buddha statue and the retreat land that surrounds it and featured dance offerings and a community lunch. The 13-foot (4-meter) tall Amitabha Buddha statue is made of highest-quality white marble from Vietnam and weighs 16 tons (14,790 kilograms). It took over two years for the sculpting to be completed and was invited onto the land in late-June 2016.
About 25 Sherpas traveled from the Seattle and Portland areas to do one of the dance offerings in traditional dress and to help offer lunch, which was sponsored by Rinpoche. They were impressed by the land and the two large statues there and thought it beautiful. Students from nearby Pamtingpa Center in Tonasket, offered a Tara dance and a local Native American offered a song. (A dance offering by local Native Americans had been planned, but had to be canceled due to unforeseen circumstances.) The dances were performed facing the statue as well as the extensive offerings.
Rinpoche created the text for the celebration, basing it on Lama Tsongkhapa’s text for the Monlam celebration. The text includes an extensive bath offering, prayers to the 35 Buddhas of Confession, and an extensive offering practice, similar to one done during a long life puja. For each offering, Rinpoche held up the item being offered and recited the text in Tibetan. Ven. René Fuesi then read the meaning of the offering in English. This year Rinpoche composed two new verses about cars and airplanes that were added to the text:
Offering Trucks, Cars, Trains and Other Vehicles
Due to the merits of having offered these vehicles
May ourselves and all transmigratory beings
Realize the basis of the two truths.
(The truth for the absolute wisdom and the truth for the all obscuring mind)
And by completing the path method possessed by wisdom and wisdom possessed by method
Cross from beyond the oceans of samsaric suffering and
May the unified holy body and mind of Buddha be achieved.
Due to the method of having offered these airplanes
And especially by the blessings of the Virtuous Friend,
The essence of embodiment of numberless Buddhas.
May ourselves and all transmigratory beings actualize the unification
Of holy body and holy mind of no more learning
In the brief lifetime of degenerated time.
When Rinpoche completes the celebration text, he has indicated that it can be used for other big festival days at FPMT centers around the world.
Resident Sangha and students from Pamtingpa Center took care of the arrangements for the celebration, which included collecting the offerings, building platforms, bringing chairs and carpets, putting up brocades, and sewing intricate umbrellas for the Amitabha Buddha and Medicine Buddha statues on the property and for the large Tara thangka that was also displayed during the festival.
The Sangha at Rinpoche’s house at Buddha Amitabha Pure Land were up all night finishing the preparations. The festival was scheduled at the last minute but came together beautifully and Rinpoche seemed pleased. He has said that he would like it to happen annually. The first Amitabha Buddha Festival took place in 2014. The festival didn’t happen last year due to devastating wildfires there.
Supporting the creation of holy objects is one of Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s vasts visions for FPMT.
More information, photos and updates about FPMT spiritual director Lama Zopa Rinpoche can be found on Rinpoche’s webpage. If you’d like to receive news of Lama Zopa Rinpoche via email, sign up to receive FPMT News.
Caption: Amitabha Buddha during the celebration at Buddha Amitabha Pure Land, Washington, US, October 2016. Photos by Ven. Losang Sherab."