New Year is the time to celebrate, the time to reflect the year passed and the time to make resolutions for the year ahead.
People celebrate their New Year in many different ways. For Buddhists in Sydney, they chose to make merit and do good deeds to start their new year.
Hundreds of Buddhist gathered at Belmore Park, next to the heart of Sydney CBD – Central station, to join in alms offering to Buddhist monks in the morning of the New Year eve. This ceremony is a regular activity for the occasion but this year is very special as the Buddha’s relic is present.
Buddhists respect and worship relics of the Buddha as the Buddha himself therefore to have the Buddha’s relics at the centre of the ceremony is like inviting the Buddha to lead the Sangha Dhana (alms offering to the Buddhist monks) ceremony of which all Buddhists believe is the highest merit of any individual offering.
The ceremony started with the procession of Sanghas and lay people bringing in the Buddha’s relics and relics of his great disciples into the ground. The procession led by Dhamma’s flags followed by the Sangha congregation led by Most Ven. Sudhammo (Phra Kru Palad Nayok Worawat) carried the Buddha’s relics received from Sri Lanka and then the congregation of lay people carried other Buddha’s relics and the relics of his disciples. The Buddha’s relic was placed in the organised respectable place at the ground. The Sangha then gave blessing and started the alms round.
After the ceremony, people took this rare opportunity to pay homage to the Buddha’s relics which stayed at the ground for the rest of the day. The traditional way to pay homage to the relics is to walk clockwise 3 times around the relics each time represents the respect to the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha respectively.
Everyone was pleased and joyful in the merit making on the day. It is a good start for the new year. They certainly make all the wishes and resolutions for the year ahead.