Saga Dawa Celebrations in Shar Gaden

Saga Dawa, the holiest time of the Tibetan year, is celebrated throughout the entire fourth month of the Tibetan lunar calendar. Tibetan lunar month begins and ends with a new moon, and the full moon day that falls in the middle of the 4th month is known as Saga Dawa Duchen. “Dawa” means month or moon in Tibetan; “Saga” is the name of a star prominent in the sky during the fourth Tibetan lunar month; and “Duchen” means “great occasion.

The Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and parinirvana are jointly observed on the 15th day of Saga Dawa, which was celebrated this year on 13 June 2014. For Tibetan Buddhists, the month of Saga Dawa is the most auspicious time for meritorious actions, and the merits of worthy acts are said to be multiplied 100,000 times.

Saga Dawa is also a popular time for pilgrimages to holy sites such as Mount Kailash. 2014 is the Year of the Horse according to the Tibetan lunar calendar, and it is said that circumambulating Mount Kailash once during the Year of the Horse is karmically equivalent to completing 12 circumambulations.

Saga Dawa is extensively celebrated in Shar Gaden Monastery ever since the inception of the monastery in 2008. The celebrations commence at 4am with Thekchen Sojong, the Mahayana One Day Vow Taking Ceremony. All the monks in the monastery i.e more than 750 monks take this vow with the Bodhicitta motivation of benefitting others.

The Eight Mahayana Precepts are:

  1. Avoid killing, directly or indirectly.
  2. Avoid stealing and taking things without the permission of their owner.
  3. Avoid sexual contact.
  4. Avoid lying and deceiving others.
  5. Avoid intoxicants: alcohol, tobacco and recreational drugs.
  6. Avoid eating more than one meal that day. Avoid eating meat, chicken, fish, eggs, onions, garlic and radishes.
  7. Avoid sitting on a high, expensive bed or seat with pride. Also avoid sitting on animal skins.
  8. Avoid wearing jewelry, perfume, and make-up. Avoid singing, dancing or playing music with attachment

The Eight Mahayana Precepts are observed for twenty-four hours. Observing these precepts for even a short time has tremendous benefits:

  • One accumulates a great amount of positive potential (merit) in a short time.
  • One will receive upper rebirths and eventually will attain enlightenment.
  • One is protected from harm;
  • The place where one lives becomes peaceful and prosperous.
  • One’s mind is peaceful and calm;
  • One gains control over one’s bad habits;
  • There are fewer distractions when meditating;
  • One gets along better with others.
  • One will meet the Buddha’s teachings in the future and can be born as a disciple of Maitreya Buddha.

It is especially good to take the Eight Mahayana Precepts on full and new moon days and on other Buddhist festival days.

After the Theckchen Sojong rituals were concluded in Shar Gaden, a full-day Bumtsog puja was conducted, broken up into 3 sessions. A total of 100,000 tsog offerings were done followed by Lama Chopa prayers. Tsog is a special ritual that involves making offerings on a tantric level to the Three Jewels, while Lama Chopa is also known as Guru Puja.

The pictures below were taken during the Saga Dawa celebrations in Shar Gaden Monastery on 13 June 2014. Clearly, Shar Gaden is very much keeping the lineage and practices alive despite the difficulties they have been facing. It is wonderful to see the monastery growing and its future generations flourishing!

More photos of the Saga Dawa celebrations in Shar Gaden

Saga Dawa Celebrations in Serpom Monastery

While Shar Gaden Monastery celebrated Saga Dawa with traditional prayers and rituals, Serpom Monastery celebrated Saga Dawa with a series of teachings by Ven. Achok Rinpoche.

Below are some pictures of Serpom Monastery’s Saga Dawa celebrations:

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4 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. Thank you for the information! Very nice article.

  2. I respect and truly rejoice to see this in Shar Garden. These are the monks who are sincere and i respect very much. They are loyal, very devoted and follow their guru’s foot steps until today. They put all the difficulties they faced for practicing Dorje Shugden as part of the practice. They remain truth and sincere to follow all the lineage practice hence they are the people who will receive tremandous blessings and merits by holding their vows purely. They are not the hypocrite who promoting world peace and in the other hand creating harm to others. May the ban be lifted very very soon to cut off all the sufferings of the practitioners.

  3. Thank you for the learning on the significance of Saga Dawa and also the 8 Mahayana Precepts. Joyful to see so many monks enjoying the celebrations.

  4. Thank you for the informative post on Saga Dawa. I extend great gratitude, appreciation and respect to the sangha communities of Shar Gaden and Serpom Monastery to uphold the pure lineage of Lama Tsongkhapa despite the great difficulties they have to face.

    Unlike most Buddhists, including myself, who practice Dharma when convenient, the monks of these 2 monasteries had to make extra effort to keep their practice because they are committed to keeping a clean samaya with their Gurus who gave them the holy practice of Protector Dorje Shugden. The Dorje Shugden monks are not only deprived of a conducive space to practice the teachings of Lord Buddha, they are ousted to the extent that they cannot even access basic necessities to meet daily needs like groceries, health care and a roof over their heads.

    These devoted monks are powerful examples to us and should prompt us to persevere through difficulties in our pursuit of spiritual learning, practice and advancement.

    The practice of the 8 Mahayana Precepts are very beautiful and I had the opportunity to experience it when in retreat. It is beautiful because in upholding these precepts, we get to experience the goodness of people…in Buddhism, I would refer to it as the Buddha within each and everyone of us. Such an experience is encouraging and empowering because the display of kindness, tolerance, acceptance etc. in the secular world is deemed to be a weakness. When I had the personal opportunity to enjoy some of my own ability to be patient, live in harmony within a community and embrace the joys of inner peace and happiness, i also developed the knowledge and understanding the benefits of Dharma practice. This in turn fueled the effort to further pursue the Dharma journey, which is most important with the increasing saturation and intensity of distractions in samsara

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.…Instead of turning away people who practise Dorje Shugden, we should be kind to them. Give them logic and wisdom without fear, then in time they give up the ‘wrong’ practice. Actually Shugden practitioners are not doing anything wrong. But hypothetically, if they are, wouldn’t it be more Buddhistic to be accepting? So those who have views against Dorje Shugden should contemplate this. Those practicing Dorje Shugden should forbear with extreme patience, fortitude and keep your commitments. The time will come as predicted that Dorje Shugden’s practice and it’s terrific quick benefits will be embraced by the world and it will be a practice of many beings.

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