Buddhist calendar

The Buddhist calendar was established in classical times and set to the traditional Chinese lunar calendar. The Buddhist calendar is used throughout the Chinese Buddhist cultural sphere as well as in other countries like Japan. Events noted on the Buddhist calendar can be divided into two major groups: shared and exclusive holidays.
The shared holidays begin with the New Year Festival held in the first month on the first day (1/1) of the Chinese lunar calendar (see calendars and almanacs). This is celebrated by Buddhists as the Bodhisattva Maitreya’s birthday. This is followed by the Dipamkara Buddha’s birthday on the sixth day (1/6), Yama’s on 1/8, and Indra’s on 1/9, which is the last day of the Chinese New Year. However, the Lantern Festival on 1/15 is also widely celebrated at Buddhist temples.
Shakyamuni’s Great Renunciation is celebrated on 2/8, while 2/15 is considered his day of extinction/nirvana and is also considered the birthday of the Chinese deity Guan Di. The Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara’s birthday is on 2/19 (see Guanyin), the Bodhisattva Samantabhadra’s birthday on 2/21, and the Bodhisattva Chundi’s birthday on 3/16. The next holiday is on 4/4, which is the Bodhisattva Manjusri’s birthday. This is followed by Shakyamuni Buddha’s birthday on 4/8, Bodhisattva Bhaisajaraja’s birthday on 4/28, and Bodhisattva Sangharama’s birthday on 5/13.
The Bodhisattva Weito’s birthday is on 6/3, the Dragon King’s day on 6/13, the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara’s realization day on 6/19, and the Bodhisattva Mahasthamaprapta’s birthday on 7/13. These are all single-day events. The celebration of Ullambana takes place on 7/15, but is usually accompanied by many activities for a couple of weeks in and around this date (see Gongde). On 7/24 the founder of the Madhyamaka school Nagarjuna’s birthday is celebrated. On 7/30 the Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha-raja’s birthday is celebrated.
The remote Buddha Dipamkara’s birthday is held on 8/22. On 9/19 the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara’s ordination is celebrated. On 9/30 is the Medicine Buddha Bhaisajaguru’s birthday. The tenth month has no holiday and 11/17 is considered Buddha Amita’s birthday. The last month of the year has two celebrations: on 12/8 is the day of Buddha Shakyamuni’s ‘awakening’, and 12/29 is the Bodhisattva Avatamsaka’s birthday. This concludes the shared holidays.
However, there are also exclusive holidays for the Patriarch Huineng’s ordination on 1/15, Bodhidharma’s birthday on 10/8, and the Patriarch Pu’an’s birthday on 7/21. These are all important to the Chan tradition. The Tiantai master Zhiyi’s anniversary is held on 11/4, while the death of the Pure Land Master Huiyuan is remembered on 8/6. Days are also set aside for the founders of temples, monasteries, schools and sects, and there are other holidays exclusive to specific lineages that are of concern primarily to monks and nuns.
For personal cultivation, either the 1st, 8th, 14th, 15th, 18th, 23rd, 24th and the last three days of each month, or, alternatively, the 8th, 14th, 15th, 23rd and the last three days of each month are considered days of abstinence. Furthermore, 1/8, 2/7, 2/9, 2/19, 3/3, 3/6, 3/13, 4/22, 5/3, 5/17, 6/16, 6/18, 6/19, 6/23, 7/13, 8/16, 9/19, 9/23, 10/2, 11/19, 11/24 and 12/25 are considered special abstinence days in honour of the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara.
A.W.BARBER

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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