Bhante 108 Year Puja

Quite a number of Centres are doing the annual puja for Bhante, either as an annual festival, or explicity as an event that will run each year for 108 years. (As of 2008, at least 11 UK and 9 European groups, centres, and retreat centres are taking part.)

At the start, Bhante blessed a number of “ritual boxes”. These have now all been distributed to Centres, so if more are needed then someone would have to go back and ask Bhante!

The History:

Danavira sent an Email to Subhuti and Surana around July/August 2000, explaining his idea about a 100 Year Puja. In response Subhuti agreed that something would need to be done to celebrate Bhante’s Birthday and that maybe Danavira’s idea was a good way of doing this.

Danavira’s idea as told to Saddhanandi on the phone in January 2001:

A puja is to be done every year for 100 years on Bhante’s birthday
* to maintain our connection with him and to keep him in mind
* to give us a sense of impermanence (needs to be recorded visually)
* the Order’s commitment to the world (must be done in large numbers, not just within the Order – a national event in all countries and also in individual centres)

Should this be a special puja written for the occasion?
* Danavira doesn’t mind, had thought it could be the 7 fold puja which would gradually develop it’s own form over the years
* but could be a special puja, Danavira is happy to contribute to it
* Danavira suggests we ask Bhante to write something for it, rather like ‘advice to a spiritual friend’ handed down over the years

Other aspects:
* 3 candles (3 Jewels colours) that last exactly 100 years
* special bell
* maybe special thankas, etc.
* have a ceremonies book, where records are kept of each puja – for each centre

The plan that then emerged via the chairs meeting and the 2003 convention…

On Tuesday August 26th 2003 on Bhante’s birthday Centres around the world are invited to start on-going festival and puja to celebrate the life and work of Bhante. This could be seen as 108 year event or it could simply be an annual festival.

Before that day a special ceremony will take place in the context of the final puja of the 2003 combined convention led by Suvajra. On the special shrine will be stacked boxes each containing fine cloths, 108 sticks of incense, candles which will burn for 108 hours, a signed photograph of Bhante and a log book with 108 pages to record those present each year. There will be one box for every FWBO Centre (and group) and a few extra boxes for future Centres. Bhante has agreed to bless the items in the boxes and to sign a photograph for each box. Before the ceremony Centre order members can place any further ritual objects of their own into their Centre’s box (such as a mala to count each year of the puja).

Then, on Bhante’s birthday, each centre will arrange a special shrine using the contents of their special puja box and perform the first of the 108 or annual pujas. Afterwards the cloths, candles, photo etc will be placed back in the box and safely stored to await the next anniversary. The log book would be filled in and any photographs recording the event added and this too would be placed back in the box.

The event will have particular significance using items blessed by Bhante and only used on this one day each year. Each Centre will have a precious supply of incence etcetera that has a direct spiritual and physical connection with Bhante himself. This particular living thread may well be increasingly treasured by each Centre’s sangha through the years. We should not underestimate how important it is to find links between the future members of the sangha and Bhante. It has been our great fortune to live in his time and have had some direct connection with him but perhaps we have a responsibility to think of those to come who won’t have any such direct connection and imagine how we might enrich their spiritual lives through our forethought and the establishment of such a special festival as this one.
This particular festival will also provide a thread of continuity in each Centre’s sangha whilst the log book, which might list those that led elements of the puja (perhaps list all the participants), when and where it took place and possibly even a photographic record, will bear witness to impermanence and change. Furthermore the event will encourage a sense of unity being an event shared by many of our Centres and groups around the world. Perhaps the box would be a fitting symbol of office to be passed from one chairman/chairwoman to the next when a Centre’s new chairman/chairwoman is ‘enthroned’.


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