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Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Embracing the Buddha Birthday Festival at South Bank

Photo of Buddha Statue with Wishes Strung around him

With my recent foray into Buddhism just last year, I was interested to see that Brisbane was putting on a huge event for Buddha's Birthday. I was really interested in talks like "Froth and Bubbles (Impermanence)", "Can I have a say in my fate?", "Liberation from fear and anger", "How to avoid the misfortunes in this world of turbulence" and "Finding peace within". I like the philosophy behind it all. The day promised many activities and so it did provide.

Saturday morning, I walked over the bridge to discover a very lively South Bank. I wandered around the gift stalls, donating to blessing stalls to make wishes along the way, and arrived just in time to share in the Baby Blessing Ritual at the Courier Mail Plazza. I then participated in a meditation class with John Prescott from the BLIAQ. It was a different experience for me to be doing all these exercises to ensure good blood flow before we sat down to focus. We even walked around the room in very slow circles to enhance our mindfulness. I listened to some of the classes (where the topics were different to the page I viewed) and concluded that they didn't appeal to me. I prefer the Kadampa style, which shows you how to use it as practical advice to live our everyday life and meditation was about giving your mind some empty space, away from all of our problems.

A definite highlight of my day was tasting all the delicious Asian Vegetarian food. I wanted to try it all but there was only one of me! I enjoyed curry fish balls, siu mai and a lovely taro dessert. I rang the blessing bell, bought a little Lion string toy, and participated in the Bathing Buddha Ritual, which is supposed to send the universe a message to wash away one's inner dirt of greed, anger and ignorance, improving harmony and balance. A teahouse taught us the Art of Tea Making, and I remember pausing, tuning out the rest of the world, just to smell and taste the High Mountain tea. I went to the Art/Craft Workshop and made a little stencil cutout on red wax paper of double happiness! 

Feeling hungry again now that it was close to dinner time, I walked up and down the food fair countless times to finally decide on a bowl of Taiwanese noodles - they were amazing! The soup was so different to what I expected or tried before, offering the comfort of a home-cooked soup, and the noodles tasted like Enoki mushrooms! I savoured each mouthful as I listened to the performers on the Cultural stage!

Finally, at 7pm, there was an Official Festival Ceremony, with lion dancing and performances from Rock Guitarist Katei and Blue Dragon, a Chinese group of young men who have mastered the playing of a Diablo (Chinese YoYo). I came back the next day, after the Jessica Mauboy concert, to try more food for dinner whilst I watched the Riverside Fireworks Spectacular. I had so much fun and I walked away thinking of the three good deeds: Taking Good actions, Speaking Good Words and Thinking Good Thoughts.

I didn't know how to tell you but the family told me that you'd changed a lot since your accident. I could see it all over your face the night before I left, locked behind the bars of your own mind. I made a wish for you to suffer no more - to be released from all your worries.

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