The Saga Dawa ritual coincides with three important events in Buddha’s life: his birth, his nirvana and parinirvana (death). It is said that good deeds and prayers are multiplied a thousand fold during Saga Dawa. Traditionally it is a time when Tibetans give out alms to everyone who comes asking for help. The celebration encompasses everyone into its fold, casting aside all barriers of nationality, religion or colour. Rinpoche has celebrated the ritual of Saga Dawa at Jampa Ling for the last twenty-three years. The smoke puja he performs purifies everything, both internally and externally.
Offerings were made from incense, tea, yoghurt, milk, butter, honey, sugar and molasses. These ingredients were then mixed with fir pines. During the ceremony Rinpoche poured tea over the mixture. When Rinpoche lit the fire everyone circumambulated it in a clockwise direction and putting aromatic leaves onto the smoke to purify the negativity of the previous year. A mantra was chanted by all to the Goddess of Victory. At the end of the ceremony rice was thrown in the air as a further offering to the local spirits living in the area.
In the Shrine Room, children and adults listened to Desmond read the story ‘The Turtle Who Couldn’t Stop Talking’ from The Jakata Tales. That part of the day was concluded with prayers and dedication. Valerie welcomed everyone and gave a talk on the history of Jampa Ling. Many of the local people present had fond memories of coming to Owendoon house as children or in their teenage years. They were delighted to see how well preserved it was. Many wandered through the Centre, reluctant to leave the tranquillity.
This year in keeping with inclusion, the Breffni Vintage Car Rally was welcomed to Jampa Ling grounds for tea and scones, and to rest and use the amenities. Almost two hundred beautifully preserved old cars rolled up the drive and parked on the lawn, in the car parks and on the field. Suddenly we were immersed in another celebration, which brought delight to everyone. Many of us are of an age where we remember the Ford Anglia, Hillman Minx, Mini Clubman, Volkswagen Beetle, Morris Minor, Ford Zepher Zodiac, Morris Oxford, Austin Maxi, Aston Martin, Austin Sprite, Triumph Herlad, Rolls Royce and many more. This sea of brightly coloured, well preserved cars was inspected and admired by Rinpoche.
The car that stole the show was the American Cadillac. Its cerise colour, preserved and shiny, drew Rinpoche’s attention in particular. When Rinpoche was born in 1939 there were no cars in Tibet. Everyone walked or travelled by horseback. In Rinpoche’s early life he would not have seen a car, never mind a Cadillac. Sheila McKiernan from ‘The Keepers Arms’ and two young helpers had set up tables, chairs and small tents for the guests. Approximately four hundred people were served tea. The atmosphere was calm and relaxed. Everyone was patient and gracious when queues formed. The rain stayed off for all of the events.
Two hours earlier Saga Dawa was being celebrated. It is well known in Tibetan Culture that this holy event can be so moving that people experience a deep sense of inner satisfaction which stays for a long time. As always Rinpoche mingled with the guests, some of whom he has known well from the local area for many years. James McGovern and his extended family are old familiar faces to Jampa Ling. Sean Smith, Nigel Rufe and Kevin McCaffery have come often and know and respect Rinpoche and all at Jampa Ling during these last twenty-three years.
Eugene Markey, chairman of the Breffni Vintage Car Club thanked Jampa Ling especially, and remarked that when they stopped at other places often there was ‘chaos’ – looking for tea and toilets. ‘Everyone’ he said ‘experienced a great sense of calm here at Jampa Ling, which must come from all the meditation done here.’ Ani-la (Margery) remarked at the end of the day, that she had no idea when she and Cyril (her husband) bought the house in 1980’s that it would bring so much joy to so many people.
This Saga Dawa was a truly memorable day. Many people left with that ‘deep sense of inner satisfaction’.