Today it’s Buddha’s birthday – and it’s a public holiday in Hong Kong (for everyone, not just devout Buddhists). We don’t exactly know when Buddha was born, but every 8th day of the 4th moon in the Lunar calendar his birthday is celebrated.
If you are a regular reader of my blog, you might know already about the ‘bathing the buddha‘ festivities. Worshippers and the public can fill a ladle with water and pour it over the Buddha statue.
Probably the best place to visit is the Po Lin Monastery on Lantau, which is next to the Big Buddha. But if you take the Ngong Ping cable car I strongly recommend you purchase your ticket online, so you don’t have to queue!
Other places to catch special ceremonies would be the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery in Sha Tin or the Miu Fat Monastery in Tuen Mun in the New Territories. Chi Lin Nunnery in Kowloon will also hold “Bathing Buddha” ceremonies from 9 am until 4 pm.
The most important event on this day which is not a Buddhist festival but actually a Taoist festival is the Cheung Chau Bun Festival. I’ve still not been to this event (hence this picture from the Hong Kong Museum of History), as it’s always very busy, but I might try and go later today.
Bakeries have been working round the clock to supply enough steamed buns stamped with the Chinese character “peace”, bun-towers have been erected and the local people will observe a vegetarian diet and offer prayers during three days (May 5-7, 2014). Everyone is waiting for the “Bun Grabbing Contest” at midnight on the last day of the celebrations (May 6). A 60-foot-tower is set up for this purpose and a dozen participants climb up the bun-covered structure as they scramble to grab as many lucky buns as possible in three minutes. Here’s a video that shows the Cheung Chau Bun Festival in its full glory:
If that’s all too loud and too crowded, why don’t you celebrate by going hiking? Last year I did a great ‘three peaks to the Buddha‘ hike which I would strongly recommend for the fit people, as it’s a great workout!
Or if you want to just enjoy a bowl of comforting soup and celebrate Buddha’s birthday with some hot food, eat the Buddha jumps over the wall soup!