Vesak Celebrations presented by the newly formed Buddhist Association of the Goulburn Valley were well attended on evening of Saturday, 21 May in Queens Gardens. One Buddhis Monk, Venerable Prahatit of the Buddhist Sangha in Albury Wodonga participated in the celebrations.
Vesak is when Buddhists in Shepparton, and across Australia and around the World observe and recollect together the Lord Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and passing away. Commemorated annually by the United Nations to acknowledge the contribution which Buddhism, one of the world’s oldest religions, has made for over 2600 years and continues to make to the spirituality of humanity and fostering of world peace.
The Buddhist Flag was originally designed in 1885 by the Colombo Committee, Sri Lanka. It was first hoisted in public on Vesak Day, 28 April 1885, in Kotahena, Sri Lanka. Colonel Olcott, founder and first president of the Theosophical Society felt that the shape of the flag made it inconvenient for general use. He therefore suggested modifying it so that it was the size and shape of national flags.
In 1889 the modified flag was introduced to Japan, and subsequently, to Burma (Myanmar). At the 1952 World Fellowship of Buddhists, the flag of the Buddhists was adopted as the International Buddhist Flag.
The six vertical bands of the flag represent the six colours of the aura which Buddhists believe emanated from the body of the Buddha when he attained Enlightenment. The significance of the colours of the bands on the flag are given below:
The Dharma Wheel
The dharma wheel, or dharmachakra in Sanskrit, is one of the oldest symbols of Buddhism. Around the globe it is used to represent Buddhism in the same way that a cross represents Christianity or a Star of David represents Judaism.
- The circle, the round shape of the wheel, represents the perfection of the dharma, the Buddha’s teachings.
- The rim of the wheel represents meditative concentration and mindfulness, which hold practice together.
- The hub represents moral discipline.
Buddhist Monk Jaganatha:
Monk Jag (Venerable Jaganatha) is an Australian-born Buddhist monk who took full-ordination in Myanmar within the Pa-Auk forest tradition in June 2007. Monk Jag is a regular teacher at the Buddhist Society of Victoria and is the founding monk of Newbury Buddhist Monastery (NBM). He teaches Dhamma (The Buddha’s teachings) domestically and internationally on an invitational basis.
In lay life, he worked in many fields including retail, telecommunications and construction. Eventually he worked more for government and large NGO’s in both administrative and managerial capacities. During this latter period he studied part-time at the University of Queensland.
In 2003 he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications from the University of Southern Queensland. He had his first ncounter with the Buddha’s teachings in a compulsory study: “Australia, Asia and the Pacific”. This course of study inadvertently exposed Monk Jag to the Buddha’s teachings and he considers this to be the greatest highlight of his university education. This study prompted him to explore the Buddha’s teachings within a monastic setting.
Monk Jag started off monastic education in earnest as a trainee at Santi Forest Monastery in the Southern Highlands of NSW Australia. In 2005 he practiced with Venerable Sujato as his teacher and developed a keen interest in the study of Suttas (the Buddha’s discourses) and Vinaya (monastic discipline). Monk Jag then travelled to Myanmar to undertake a three-month meditation retreat by Sayalay Dipankara (a 10-precept nun) within the Pa-Auk tradition. After finishing the retreat, he went on to Pa-Auk Forest Monastery in Mawlamyine (in the south of Myanmar) to pursue meditation and take full-ordination as a Bhikkhu (fully-ordained monk).
Message from Monk Jag to Participants in Vesak Celebration, Queens Gardens, Shepparton
Venerable Prahatit gives a talk and leads meditation, Queens Gardens, Shepparton
Photos courtesy Liz Arcus Photography
You may view the Facebook Page of the Buddhist Association of the Goulburn Valley.
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