Q141: Master Lu, how should we celebrate the Lantern Festival as Buddhists? What should we be aware of?

A141:

  • Regardless of which one of the 24 Solar Terms it is, many Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and officers from the spiritual worlds would visit us on special occasions, including the Lantern Festival. The Lantern Festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the first month according to the lunar calendar and it marks the last day of the Chinese New Year celebrations.
  • According to Chinese tradition, we consume “Tang Yuan” or glutinous rice balls during the Lantern Festival to celebrate the harmony and reunion of family and friends. Indeed, this symbolises the fact that we harmonise our energy field with the spiritual realms, and we minimise obstacles. The spiritual realms include the heavens and upper realms, as well as the underworld and lower realms.
  • We harmonise our energy field with the heavens and the upper realms by making more prostrations to Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, and performing more recitations. We can recite the Great Compassion Mantra (Ta Pei Chou), Heart Sutra (Hsin Ching) and Eighty-eight Buddhas Great Repentance (Li Fo Ta Chan Hui Wen). Please note that the recitation of the Eighty-eight Buddhas Great Repentance should not exceed 7 times per day.
  • We harmonise our energy field with the underworld and the lower realms by reciting more Little Houses (Hsiao Fang Tsu) and transferring merits to our Karmic Creditors, as well as to deceased relatives and friends. We can also recite more Amitabha Pure Land Rebirth Mantra (Wang Sheng Chou).
  • At the same time, from the human perspective, harmony generates prosperity. We can elevate our spiritual level if we mindfully and sincerely cultivate our minds, practise vegetarianism, refrain from committing wrongdoings, be a kind person, and perform Life Liberation. During the Lantern Festival, you can recite the Mantra to Untie Karmic Knots (Chieh Chieh Chou) as much as possible, as this is one of the most effective days to perform the recitation of this mantra. You can also recite the Cintamani Cakravartin Dharani (Ju Yi Pao Lun Wang To Lo Ni) and pray for good fortune. Generally you can recite the Mantra to Untie Karmic Knots and the Cintamani Cakravartin Dharani (Ju Yi Pao Lun Wang To Lo Ni) 49 times or 108 times on this day.
  • Traditionally, people would hang lanterns during the celebration of the Lantern Festival. This practice emphasises on connecting and uniting our energy field with the higher and lower spiritual realms. The purpose of hanging lanterns is so that our deceased family members can find their way back home. However, as Buddhists, the hanging of lanterns is not recommended. It would be better if we perform more recitations and recite more Little Houses for the deceased.

 

[Updated 2012.07.05]