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Buddhists Join Global Celebrations for the New Year

Buddhist arounds the world celebrated the new year on 1 January, joining others from various religions and cultures. Historically, Buddhists have followed the lunar calendar, which celebrates the new year on 10 February this year, beginning the year of the Dragon in the Chinese zodiac. However, as global cultures have interacted, more Buddhists in the global East and West have begun adding the Gregorian new year to their holiday calendar.

This year, Buddhists in Thailand joined government leaders in large celebration. “Year-End Chanting: Thai Way, Buddhist Way, Sufficiency Way,” was held at Phutthamonthon Buddhist Park, Nakhon Pathom Province, from the evening of 31 December until the early hours of 1 January. There were also a number of Dharma talks led by prominent monks, mantra chanting, and the distribution of holy water and the lighting of sacred fires to signify purification and renewal.

Buddhist laywomen at Phutthamonthon Buddhist Park in Thailand. From
Buddhist laywomen chant at Wat Pathum Wanaram in Bangkok. From

In northern Thailand, tourists flocked to Wat Pha Sorn Kaew, situated on a hilltop in rural Phetchabun Province. There, tourists prayed and meditated through the night and watched the sunrise. “Though crowded, the area was buzzing with cheer thanks to the cool weather,” temple official Ekachai Kasetkorn said. (The Nation)

Buddhists in Japan continue a tradition of ringing the giant bell at Zojo-ji, a Buddhist temple in Tokyo. The bell-ringing tradition, which takes place at temples across the country on New Year’s Eve, is known as joya no kane (Jp. midnight bell). As the old year passes into the new year, the temple bells are rung 108 times, each ring signifying one of the worldly afflictions that beings face in samsara. At many temples, the public can purchase tickets to join in and ring the bell with the monks.

Laypeople join monastics in midnight bell ringing at Zojo-ji in Tokyo. From

Buddhists in the United States also took part in the Japanese bell-ringing ceremony as San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum hosted visitors who were welcomed to ring a 16th-century bronze bell there, “to curb the 108 mortal desires that, according to Buddhist belief, torment humankind,” the museum explained. (KRON4)

His Holiness the Dalai Lama offered a message to mark the occasion, writing in part:

Despite the many challenges that we are facing today, I feel optimistic that with a growing appreciation of how interconnected we all are in the oneness of humanity, we can all work to lead more meaningful lives and create a better world.

As human beings we share a common wish to be happy and free from pain. We are social animals who depend on others to survive. Therefore, as I often say, we should work for the benefit of others. If we cannot help them, we should at least make sure we do no harm. I have found that helping others is the best way of ensuring happiness and calm for ourselves.

I also firmly believe that we can find peace in the world only when we find peace within. Every human being has the potential to cultivate inner peace, and by so doing to contribute to the peace of our global community.

We must try to cultivate compassion and inner peace, regardless of our nationality or religion, we can contribute to the well-being and happiness of all mankind. If the last century was the century of violence, it is our responsibility to make this century the century of dialogue.

(His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet)

See more

Thailand ushers in 2024 with grand Buddhist celebrations (Pattaya Mail)
In Photos: Ringing In 2024 Around the World (VOA News)
Tourists flock to colourful hilltop Phetchabun temple to say New Year prayers (The Nation)
2023-2024 New Year’s Eve bell-ringing at Tokyo temples (Time Out)
Ringing in 2024: New Year’s Eve photos from around the world (CBS News)
His Holiness’ Message for the New Year – 2024 (His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet)
Japanese Bell Ceremony at Asian Art Museum welcomes New Year (KRON4)

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