MAHAYANA NEW YEAR 2021
Mahayana Buddhism is the largest branch of Buddhism in the world, the other being Theravada. Practitioners of Mahayana Buddhism are found mostly in the areas of Eastern and Northern Asia, in countries such as China, Japan, Korea, Tibet and Mongolia. In countries where Mahayana is the most dominant religion, January is the month of celebration. Based on tradition and country, the actual date of the New Year’s celebration may vary. There are Mahayana Buddhists who celebrate the New Year on either December 31 or January 1; however, most celebrate the New Year on the first full moon in January. This year, Mahayana Buddhists will be celebrating on January 28.
For practitioners of Mahayana Buddhism, the New Year is a time of self-reflection and meditation, the goal being to find ways to improve their lives and learn from any mistakes made during the prior year. There are large, celebratory feasts where family and friends will gather and there are often fireworks displays which happen at midnight.
Praying to and glorifying Buddha is one of the most popular ways to celebrate this day. The Mahayana New Year’s celebration is about glorifying Buddha and looking toward new beginnings in the year to come. Practitioners will visit their local temples to bring offerings and receive blessings from the monks. Another common activity that Buddhists will take part in is pouring water over their Buddha statues. People believe that this activity enables one to wash away negative thoughts, enabling them to think clearly and focus on the good side of things.