Wesak a ceremony of light, water and sound is celebrated on Mt Kurama in Japan on May 3rd this year.
I remember being there two years ago and participating in the ceremony. The moon seemed huge and very close to the earth. The area in front of the main temple was packed with people with very little standing room. (The photo doesn’t do justice to the moon that night.)
The ceremony was divided into 3 parts. The first part began with a prayer of purification (Kiyome) where people chanted praise for the deity Mao-san in order to cleanse themselves and the site. The area was bathed in moonlight and the sound of so many people chanting praise under the full moon was magical. Each person had their own little candle. One of the crowd lit their light from a monk’s candle and then lit another’s who then lit others and so on until all the candles were lit. This light represented the eternal strong power of the soul.
After the chanting was finished we lined up to enter the temple to receive a tiny cup of water and accept the blessing of pure love into our hearts. Many people left after the first part so they could catch the last cable car down the mountain.
Once everyone in the very long line had accepted and drank the water the second part Encouragement (Hagemi) began. This was a silent meditation led by the abbesses, a tiny woman.
The final part was the Awakening (Mezane) when a huge bonfire was lit in front of the temple. The fire symbolised the awakening to an authentic life shining with the light of wisdom. The ashes were still very hot and radiating heat early the next morning. The evening finished with chanting to welcome the newly illuminated soul.
Once the ceremony finished I took a little time to add another layer to my Mt Kurama blend. I also added a final layer to the blend the following morning and collected the chrysanthemum stones I had left buried in the earth overnight.
I attempted to sleep that night in one of the large temple rooms on the floor. Indoors it was still very cold especially as there was only one heater in the room but I was lucky as many people had to sleep outdoors on the mountain that night. Many of the Japanese were up at first light next morning so they could catch the first cable car home.
This was an evening I will never forget. To spend the night on the mountain associated with reiki and during such a sacred time was a rare privilege indeed.