I have been exploring some alternatives to the Christmas holiday season for much of this month. I would almost say ad nausium but noone has complained about it yet. Maybe this would be something more than “wringing out all the Christian aspects of Christmas and then sprinkling some Buddhist pixie dust over what’s left.”
Enter the Shambhala Tradition of Children’s Day. Quite easily the worst name for a holiday ever. I mean, seriously! I am going to combat the mega-conglamerate of X-mas with “Children’s Day”?! I couldn’t even take down Kwanza with it. The name is simply horrible.
Or is it? It is, at least, honest. No frills and no commercialization. I do like that aspect but to try to sign a Christmas Card “and a Happy Children’s day” seems like a lazy, secular Humanist was too busy curing diseases and mapping DNA to come up with something snazzy.
Anyway the webpage lists a few ways to create a Children’s Shrine or Lineage Tree (is that like a phylogenetic X-mas tree?).
- Shrine can be designed with tiers representing the principles of heaven, earth, and man. The shrine is often covered with red, gold, or white satin. A household Shambhala shrine could be refashioned, or a table placed beneath the fireplace mantle.
- The King and Queen are the central focus of the shrine, representing the heaven principle. They are placed at the highest level, perhaps on wooden platforms. They may be special china dolls or statuary, or even standing paper dolls.
- Arrange the Shambhala offerings just in front of the King and Queen. Place from left to right: a small mirror (sight), a conch or musical instrument (sound), saffron water (smell), fruit or sweets (taste), and a cloth ribbon tied on a stick (touch).
- The children can place animal figurines on the shrine representative of the earth principle. These could be stuffed animals or handmade models of clay or papier maché. Any small precious household objects, such as a yumi, would also be appropriate. If your shrine has three tiers, these would go on the middle level.
- Place flowers and candles on the shrine.
- Children may place other offerings of their choice: handmade decorations, potted plants, home made cookies, bowls of candy, and special “treasures” such a dolls and toys.
- Around the shrine could be placed lights, streamers, fans, flags, or paper ring chains in Shambhala colours. A large mirror could be placed behind the shrine, surrounded by green boughs and twinkling lights.
- On the eve of Children’s Day, children can place sake or tea offerings and food, usually sweets, on the shrine for the King and Queen.
- After the children have gone to bed, the King and Queen set out gifts for the children. Note: Giving gifts is not required; some feel this is too materialistic.
Also check out Smilin’ Waylon Lewis’ post on his own childhood experiences of this Western (?) Buddhist Holiday.
And lest we forget Rohatsu that occured earlier this month. A nice description of the Soto version of celebrating the enlightenment of the Buddha ~ Doing what you may ask? Well, meditating of course.
I didn’t get a chance to sit for any extended amount of time during the week of Rohatsu since I was up to my elbows in In-Laws and samsara-baby. But I did take a few moments everyday to be thankful of my circumstances.