History, traditions

Russian Buddhists worship Blue Wooden Rooster

Today Russian Buddhists celebrate the official beginning of the New Year of Blue Wooden Rooster. The holiday symbolizes cleansing of one's souls, the perfect time to rid oneself of sins, imperfections and troubles.

The last couple of days Buddhist temples throughout Russia have been conducting divine worshipping ceremonies along with the so-called “dugjuuba” ceremony. During the latter ceremony Buddhists would light ritual fires rights after the sunset and burn small pieces of dough or fabric in them, thus ridding themselves of all the misfortunes.

The actual New Year is commemorated with grand festivities. Well-being and prosperity prayers are usually accompanied by theatrical ceremonies; local chefs mesmerize the public with their culinary masterpieces.

In Buddhism, chronology starts from the moment of Buddha's physical death, his departure to Nirvana. It is virtually impossible to determine the exact date of the event; various traditions present various accounts. It is known however that Buddha’s earthly existence is dated between 623 and 380 BC and it is also known that he was 80 years old at the time Buddha reached Nirvana.

This year is the year of Blue Wooden Rooster. The other day, head of Russia's traditional sanghi Hambo-Lama Damba Ayusheev congratulated everyone with the holiday and wished them to “keep the seeds of prosperity” in the year to come.

“It is considered that the New Year begins at 6:00 am,” stated a spokesman of Russia's Buddhist sangha in Moscow to a RIA “Novosti” correspondent. “On New Year’s Eve Buddhists gather in temples and pray for the well-being, prosperity and peace in the world. In addition, faithful people also order public prayers for the upcoming year,” noted Sanzhei-Lama.
 
It is customary for Buddhists to visit each other in the morning. According to the lama, people can enjoy not only fruits and vegetables on this day but also “white” (dairy) foods and meat (lamb and beef). Buddhist regions do not consume poultry, states the lama.

As far as the presents are concerned, souvenirs and images of Buddha are among the most popular ones.

There are nearly one million Buddhists in Russia. They primarily reside in Kalmykia, Buryatia, Tuva, Altai region, and Chitinsky to name a few.   

”Sagaalgan” is one of the most favorite holidays of Buryats and other Mongol-speaking nations. Sagaalgan, or the holiday of the White Month, is celebrated since XIII century by the order of Chinghis Khan's grandson Khubilai Khan and symbolizes the beginning of spring. “White month” refers to the beginning of a new life.