Buddha’s birthday in Mongolia

Buddhism in Mongolia is very closely aligned with that of Nepal and Tibet.  On the full moon of May they celebrate Buddha’s birthday which also coincides with his enlightenment and death.  Last year, we caught a glimpse of it from afar when a massive collection of paper lanterns drifted off into the sky.  This year we were more proactive and got to participate in the event.

Buddha birthday prayer lanterns

Tickets were 12,000 tugrik (about $8.25) and I think only 3,000 were available. At about 6:30 we arrived at the Naadam Stadium (where the annual wrestling and archery competitions take place) and found ourselves in line with our tickets in hand. We really had no idea what to expect. After getting through the gate we were each situated next to a brazier on a wooden post. For the next two hours we listened to prayers, chants, and instructions entirely in Mongolian. A chill and slight breeze cooled us as we sat on the ground. Eventually it was time to light our fires. Then another 15 minutes of prayer. Soon the helpers pulled out large paper lanterns and small groups of people affixed stickers with prayer requests to them before lighting the wax rings below to inflate them with hot air. Then the sky was full of paper lanterns…

zieak (2207 Posts)

Ryan "Zieak" McFarland dabbles. Beards. Making things. Travel. Genealogy. Frugality and excessiveness. Fitness and fatness. He's a PE teacher in India, usually calls Alaska home and is a happy father to two boys and the husband to a suddenly crafty wife.

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