Buddha’s Birthday Celebrations – Ulaanbaatar

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June 6, 2016

Did you know that this May 21st is Buddha’s Birthday? Find out what’s going on in Ulaanbaatar to honour the celebrations. 

All images are of Gandantegchinlen Monastery and taken by photographers Nick Rains and Paul Allerton – both who travelled with us.

The spectacular 26.5-meter-high statue of Avalokiteśvara
Image by photographer Nick Rains

If anyone of you reading this has a birthday tomorrow (May 21st) then you will be sharing your celebrations with Buddha.   Vesak Day (as it is commonly known) is also known as Ikh Duichen in Mongolia (it means Great Moment in Tibetan). 

It’s Buddha’s birthday, the date of reaching enlightenment and the date of reaching nirvana all celebrated in one day. 
It falls on the 15th day of the first month of summer in the Mongolian Lunar Calendar (so this means the date changes in the western calendar). The 15th day in the Mongolian Lunar Calendar is also full moon. 
(Listed throughout the Tibetan Lunar Calendar are auspicious and non-auspicious days. May 21st is a non-auspicious day – it particularly mentions against having any medical procedure. Just so you’re prepared!)

Sukhbaatar Square (renamed Chinggis Square in 2013) will be the focus point of the start of the day’s celebrations in Ulaanbaatar.  The day will start with a flashmob meditation of a thousand people and then a parade of more than 1080 people from Sukhbaatar Square to Gandan Monastery where the focus will then be on the Migjid Janraisig Süm.

(108 is considered a sacred number in Buddhism. Although the number’s significance is open to interpretation, it is said to represent the 108 human passions.)

Migjid Janraisig Süm at Gandan Monastery
By photographer Nick Rains
Inside Migjid Janraisig Süm
By photographer Nick Rains

Inside Migjid Janraisig Süm
By photographer Paul Allterton

And in case you’re in the area, below are all the details (although you will have to be able to read Cyrillic). Why not go along and be part of the local community?

 I include Gandantegchinlen Khiid on our free city walking tour that I offer to all EL guests. Why not see what else we offer in Ulaanbaatar on our Mongolia one-day tours?

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