Gangtok: On June 14, Sikkim celebrated the Saga Dawa festival, the sacred fourth lunar month of the Buddhist calendar, which marks the birth, enlightenment and the Parinirvana of Lord Buddha.

The Saga Dawa for this year began on May 31 and will continue till June 29. Since June 14 was a full moon, the celebration today was considered auspicious.

Saga Dawa is considered the ‘month of merits’, with Saga denoting the constellation of stars in the fourth lunar month of the Buddhist calendar while Dawa denotes the month.

As per Buddhism, any good deed carried out in the auspicious month is considered to multiply million times.

During the holy month, the Sikkim government issues a notification on a ban on the sale of meat to respect the culture and sentiments of Buddhists. Devotees tend to pray, offer donations, perform charitable works, light butter lamps, take pilgrimage tours, and importantly avoid meat during the month.

The celebration at Tsuklakhang began early morning on Tuesday with the ringing of Gong to initiate the celebration, followed by the ritual of cleansing, and other activities.

Around 9 am, the ritualistic procession called Bumkor began carrying holy scriptures of Pecha along with the statue of Buddha Shakyamuni, and eight auspicious symbols. The procession was attended by Ecclesiastical Minister Sonam Lama, along with monks and devotees.

The procession which began from Tsuklakhang Palace took the route of Nam Nang, passing across the MG Marg to much fanfare of the tourists and locals alike, finally converging back at Tsuklakhang Palace making a circumference of the Gangtok town.

Speaking on the celebration, Tsuklakhang Trust Coordinator Lhendup Dorjee Lepcha stated, “This is a calendar event under the Buddhist calendar, unfortunately, due to COVID-19, for the last two years, the celebration was subdued. This year again we have revived it. It is the month when Lord Buddha was born, he attained enlightenment and finally, his Maha Parinirvana (death). The month marks the culmination of three important events in Lord Buddha’s life. The celebration has been an important activity of the Trust and the Tsuklakhang monks. It has been a tradition for the last many years. The programme continues for three days, culminating on the full moon day. On the first two days, we had prayers, blessings the devotees, and today, we took out the scriptures and teachings of Lord Buddha, which is taken around town for blessing for the people.”

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