The New Year has exploded in life. It all started with the destruction of evil in the Ogoh-Ogoh parade, followed by Nyepi, the silent day. These events kicked off a series of happy surprises in our community: Weddings, the arrival of twins, a new house, baby goats, a new calf, and freeing so many animals into safety! Here’s a brief video of the high points.
It all started March 2nd with the demon parade of the scary Ogoh-Ogoh through the streets. This is the last hurrah for evil and all the wrongs in the world. Then the demons are burned to smithereens.
This year the governor of Bali gave special permission to prepare for procession of demons called Ogoh-Ogoh. Especially young people work very hard to build the scariest effigies of nastiness and evil.
The Ogoh-ogoh are statues built especially for the Pengrupukan parade on Nyepi eve. The governor asked them to build environmentally friendly Ogoh-Ogoh without plastic and styrofoam materials.
Ogoh-ogoh are often of mythological beings, mostly demons, all handmade and decorated.
At the end of the evening the Ogoh-Ogoh’s all get burned, in a total destruction of evil to prepare for a new beginning. The destruction of the Ogoh-ogoh represents spiritual death and rebirth in the New Year.
The following day is Nyepi. New Year’s is a day of total silence in Bali. That’s good, because the, young people will need to rest after the festivities. This is the day all of Bali shuts down. The airport, internet access, and cell phone service is cut off for 24 hours. People stay at home.
Tradition demands that no fire be used, no electricity, no music, and no cooking is allowed on Nyepi day. Food must be prepared the previous day. We engage in meditation, prayer, silence, and family harmony. On this day complete silence and serenity reigns over the entire island.
It’s a good thing. Because ever since Nyepi, the New Year has been a flurry of activity like we have never seen before! Births, weddings, ceremonies, animals, expansion, students, and overflowing enthusiasm for life.
Meanwhile Lama D and I celebrate Buddhist New Year on the same day! The Bhutan tradition is quite different! March 3rd is Losar, Bhutanese New Year, the same day as Bali. The Bhutan calendar follows a 60 year rotation of the zodiac animals.
This year we welcome the Water Tiger! What will it bring? The confluence of WATER meets the ALERT, COMPETITIVE nature of the Tiger breeding OPEN-MINDED energy, which is not rash and ablaze like other Tiger years. This less temperamental Tiger leans toward NEW IDEAS and NEW FREQUENCIES. It is OBJECTIVE and unusually PERCEPTIVE. This PRAGMATIC Tiger concentrates on LONG-TERM GOALS, seldom making errors in judgement. Wow! This is good news!
This project started on an auspicious Buddhist holiday when Lama D bought 347 fish and 7 chickens that were destined to be killed in the market. He spent about $105 in the market. He then released them into Nature and gave them a life of freedom!
This special full moon and major Buddhist holiday is called Chotrul Duchen. On this day, the effects of positive or negative actions are multiplied ten million times. So it creates VASTLY GOOD KARMA. Buddhism does not condone killing. It is traditional to engage in virtuous activities and prayer on this day.
The released fish are swimming upstream! They’re alive!
On hearing of the release, Lama D’s 8,000 students in Bhutan were so inspired by these actions that they asked if they could donate money to participate in freeing even more animals. You’ll never believe what happened! His students collected $406 to buy 1,356 fish, and sent him the money. Lama D went to the wholesale fish market with our wonderful friend Ketut. They bought the fish, came home and released them into the wild. I’ve never seen Lama D so happy. Check out the video! THANK YOU, KETUT!
I asked Lama D to explain the reasons behind doing these miraculous actions for the Bhutanese New Year. Here are his words about the Buddhist point of view.
“When we do good things for others without any expectation, automatically we will build happiness in everyone. We will win virtue in our lives. We don’t need to count the virtue. We just think about doing good for everyone and benefit all living beings. When we create benefit for others, automatically, and naturally the blessings come, because the seeds are very fine. Blessings will grow from those good activities. That is why we just help all of life, to give them a comfortable, free life.
The first month of the New Year is in March, called Dawa Thambe. About 2,600 years ago, it is said that Sakyamuni Buddha did something very wonderful in the first 15 days of the year. This is the time in which the Buddha revealed the power of Nature to non-believers. The festival Chotrul Duchen celebrates Buddha’s answers to India’s six main religious schools, who opposed his movement and challenged him to a contest of miraculous powers. The Buddha surprised them with a different miracle each day for fifteen days. He showed so many things. He threw water while washing his hands and it turned into a lake. He planted a stick, and it became a flowering tree surrounded by birds within 15 days. In short, he utterly defeated his opponents and inspired many individuals to follow the Dharma.
Then the Buddha said “You don’t have to follow the Dharma, but you should know this is the most powerful force in the universe”. Chom Thurel means “showing magic”.
The Buddha’s magical event shows how Nature works through the Dharma. It shows the power of accumulating Good Karma in one’s life. It’s an important lesson. The Buddha said people should NOT be AGAINST the Dharma path. Because people who show disrespect for Nature and God will accumulate bad Karma against the Natural Laws, called Dharma.
People may not understand Buddhism. But no one hates it. No one fears Buddhism. That is good. Whether you’re a “Buddhist” or not, to do Good Deeds for the Dharma path always creates good Karma. But when seeds are poison, it will grow a poisonous plant. When you plant good seeds for life it becomes a medicine for the universe, and it will give a positive result.
This approach is based on the assumption that the universe is multi-leveled and interconnected. We are part of Nature. We never die. We just move from one life to another. We may be born next time as a rich and beautiful woman, or we might be a goat. All this depends on the accumulated Karma and energies of different lifetimes.
For an animal, life is difficult. Animals must take care of their body. Even ants want a long and happy life. But at death, when their body and soul separate – this is difficult for everyone. Animals have no control over this. An animal’s owner has the power to kill them at any time.
Instead, we can release the animals from captivity and let them be free with a long life, until death comes naturally. Some people have the power to kill animals, which is a form of luck due to good actions in the previous life. That’s precisely why we should NOT kill animals. If we let them free, the whole interconnected universe will be happy.
Imagine you are a chicken. You want to live a long, happy life with your family and friends. Perhaps you are a fish, and you want to play in the water for a long life. But one day someone catches you and takes you to the market. How do you feel? Happy? Sad? Afraid? If someone tries to kill me, I will feel huge fear. But there’s no way for the animal to escape.
Fear of death radiates through all levels of the universe. Other living beings have a mind and heart, even if it is simple. All animals feel this frequency and they will be frightened. So, all of a sudden, the whole universe is out of balance and filled with FEAR. The people are afraid, the chickens are terrified, the ants and the fish feel fear. Our loving pets try to calm us down to help. The honey bees and fireflies try to do their jobs amid all the fear, but it is very difficult to live in an environment of violence, hatred, and fear in the air.
That is why I gave free life for these animals. The first day we gave free life to 347 fish and 7 chickens. When my students in Bhutan saw the videos, they gave money so I could buy 1,356 fish and free them. One of my students is a great Lama. He sponsored 150 fish as part of the 1356. So we also have the blessings of a great Lama for this project of free life for fish.
If we kill an animal, one day we will be in their place. This is tit for tat. It’s a stinging payback that happens automatically in the Natural world. If we do good for other beings, then it comes back to benefit us. The fish can’t kill us, but karma can kill us. We can be reborn as a fish. What goes around comes around. If I am reborn as a fish, and the fish are reborn as humans, they can take me to the market and kill me.
That is why we do good things, good activities. We control our mind, and seek a good path in our lives. Then soon we will get enlightenment. At that point we won’t have to return to this stress and the endless cycle of death and rebirth. We can be reborn a Boddhisattva to help all living beings. That’s called ‘pay it forward’. This is how the universe works. Have you noticed?”
Our beautiful friend Mira had four weddings. Her first wedding ceremony was a traditional one here at her parents’ home. Her second ceremony was at the groom’s home. And the reception was here a few days later. It was followed by a modern celebration in our garden. Here’s the couple with both parents.
This is our lovely Mira with her parents Ketut and Wayan. Wow! She is stunningly beautiful!
Mira and Ngura cut the cake. This is their modern WESTERN style wedding.
After dinner, the fire dancers came out and performed wonderfully!
Children watch the fire dancers fascinated.
These fire dancers were an awesome spectacle the final event of the final wedding party!
Our friends Komang Agus and Indah also had their wedding the week after Nyepi. That’s because the days after Nyepi are considered very auspicious to begin a new life. Here they receive wedding blessings and water splashes from the high priestess.
Their preparation took many days, and everyone feels relieved and happy. The big ceremony is finished. Now is the time for big congratulations and blessings from friends and family.
The evening party was sumptuous, as all their friends came for dinner and festivities.
Lama D says hi to his good friend Manku, Ketut’s father and also a priest, at Mira’s first wedding.
Our good friend Ngura is now father to twins! The two girls are perfect, beautiful, healthy, and both quite different. In this photo they were 1-day old.
Lama D holds both girls in his arms. They are really different! Our good friend Ngura invited us to the ceremony for his new daughters, which is held 42 days after a birth. The ceremony lasts all day, and consists of many steps of priests, offerings, blessings of the parents, of the babies, special offerings by the ladies, snacks, dinner, and revelry. The entire community came, about 120 people were there in traditional Balinese dress, whole families and children. The community here is very large. The families live in a compound built around their shared temple, where gatherings and ceremonies happen.
The parents of the twins are blessed in their new responsibilities.
The priest chants Hindu prayers for happy life for the babies as new community members.
Thanks for sharing our journey! Warmest regards and best wishes to you from me and Lama D.