Waisak at Borobudur: Witnessing the Majesty and Impressive Activities

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Waisak celebration at Borobudur is an annual event that’s been drawing in both local and international tourists.

Taking place between April and June at Borobudur Temple, Waisak offers experiences you wouldn’t want to miss during this religious festival. Here, YogYes has gathered five things you can see and feel when joining Waisak at Borobudur.

Waisak Day

This festive day, also known as Trisuci Waisak, holds great significance for Buddhists. Trisuci Waisak is named so because three significant events occurred on this day: the birth of Prince Siddhartha Gautama, the attainment of perfect enlightenment by Ascetic Gautama, and the passing or nirvana of Buddha Gautama.

Sure thing! Here are the three key events in the national celebration of Waisak Day at Borobudur Temple:

1. Fetching Holy Water and Lighting the Torch

Gathering holy water from the springs or Jumprit Wells in Temanggung Regency and lighting the torch using the eternal flame from Mrapen in Grobogan Regency.

The torch will be enshrined at Mendut Temple and then carried in a procession to Borobudur Temple.

Read More: Mendut Temple: Embracing the Majesty of the Giant Buddha Statue’s Throne

2. Pindapatta Ritual

Offering alms to monks or ascetics by the Buddhist community to provide opportunities for performing good deeds. This year, the Pindapatta ritual is planned to take place in Temanggung Regency and Semarang Regency.

3. Samadhi or Meditation at the Peak of the Full Moon

Meditation during the peak moments of the full moon. The determination of the full moon is based on astronomical calculations of celestial orbits, allowing the peak to occur during the daytime.

This year, it is estimated to reach its peak on Monday (16/5) at 11:13:46 AM Western Indonesian Time (WIB).

Waisak in Borobudur

Buddhists are gearing up to celebrate Waisak Day 2563 BE / 2019 AD. In Indonesia, the festivities often take center stage at Borobudur Temple.

But not many know the backstory of Waisak at Borobudur. The tradition of celebrating Waisak at Borobudur began in 1929, initiated by the Theosophical Society of the Dutch East Indies.

Back then, its members were a mix of Europeans and Javanese nobles. The celebration hit a pause during the Indonesian War of Independence but resumed at Borobudur in 1953. However, it took another break during the restoration in 1973, with the festivities temporarily moving to Mendut Temple.

Indonesia is a diverse nation, a unity of shared aspirations. Borobudur, a key symbol of our identity, deserves to be embraced and enjoyed by everyone.

The temple had a hiatus from religious activities after being built in the 8th and 9th centuries AD. However, the Waisak celebration tradition showcases tolerance, mutual respect, and appreciation for our differences. Let’s hope these values are always remembered, laying the foundation for Indonesia’s bright future.

Read More: Ratu Boko: Grandeur on a Hill Full of Tranquility That Mesmerizes

What to do?

Waisak marks three significant events in the life of Buddha Gautama, or the Grand Teacher for Buddhists. These events include the birth of Buddha Gautama, his journey to perfect enlightenment, and his departure. These three occasions are collectively known as Waisak Tri Suci Day.

Every year, Waisak falls on different dates, usually in May, depending on the Buddhist calendar or Buddhist Era (BE) markings.

Buddhists engage in various events leading up to Waisak, such as meditation, worship, and pindapatta. Each of these activities carries its own meaning and purpose.

Here are 5 things to see and do at waisak in Borobudur, recommended by the Yogyakarta Tours

1. The Procession

The first thing you’ll experience at the Waisak celebration is witnessing the procession along the 5 km route from Mendut Temple to Borobudur Temple.

This procession, a key part of the Waisak event, is attended by various Buddhist assemblies from countries like Thailand, Laos, Nepal, and India

As the procession kicks off, the first sights include a pickup truck carrying the Dhamma flame and a blessed water jug. Following that, the procession features decorated vehicles carrying monks sprinkling blessed water along the way.

There’s also a drum band, displays of agricultural produce, and an entertaining cosplay of the Monkey King’s adventures. Despite the diverse elements, the primary focus of the procession remains on the Buddhist devotees holding candles in their hands while practicing their faith.

2. Admiring Borobudur that Full of Decoration

On the peak day of Waisak, the surroundings of Borobudur will be adorned with many beautiful altars featuring Buddha statues, candles, and plastic flowers used by various Buddhist communities for prayers.

However, the most majestic of all is located on the west side of the temple complex, the main altar. Not only that, on Waisak day, the temple is surrounded by torches and decorations contributed by devotees from all over Indonesia.

All of this can be enjoyed, especially during the daytime when the temple is not yet closed, allowing us to freely explore and take it all in.

3. Witnessing the Grandeur of Borobudur at Night

While on regular days, visitors are usually asked to leave Borobudur at sunset, during Waisak, we also get the opportunity to see Borobudur at night.

This is particularly special because at night, Borobudur appears truly magnificent. It’s not just because the spotlights illuminate every detail of Borobudur, but also because at night, no visitors are allowed to climb to the top of the temple.

Seeing Borobudur from a distance without crowds is a beautiful sight.

4. Following The Monks to Meditate

Another thing you can experience during Waisak is guided meditation led by a monk. This meditation takes place in an open field just before the lantern release, so it’s safe to say that all participants releasing lanterns will meditate first.

Under the night sky with candles in front, we’ll begin to close our eyes and free not only our bodies but also our minds, guided by the monk’s voice up front. This meditation lasts for approximately thirty minutes.

5. Joining The Lantern Release

And finally, the most special part is experiencing the lantern release into the night sky. Like during meditation, we will be guided first by the monk in front before releasing the lantern.

The goal is not only for a safe lantern release but also for us to enjoy the moment. As the lanterns start to soar together, the once dim night sky instantly lights up for a brief moment.

This lantern release symbolizes the spread of the light of peace throughout the universe.

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Author: Pramitha Chandra


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