Unlike the rest of the world, Bhutanese celebrate Mother's Day on the Descending Day of Lord Buddha

Email

The Descending Day of Lord Buddha is to honour the day Lord Buddha returned to the human realm. During this festival, the Bhutanese pilgrimage to monasteries where they light a butter lamp.

The Descending Day of Lord Buddha, also known as Lhabab Duchen, falls on the 22nd day of the ninth month of the Bhutanese calendar. This might be a different day on the Gregorian calendar every year, but usually, it falls around November. In 2021, the Descending Day of Lord Buddha is celebrated on 27th October. 

The legend behind the day

As the name suggests, this is the day Lord Buddha descended back to earth. 

According to legend, the Buddha had entered the womb of Queen Yum Jumalhazay in the form of a white elephant. The Queen conceived after a divine dream of a white elephant entering her womb. When the date of delivery approached, the Queen left for her parents’ house in Nepal to give birth. 

Along the way, she gave birth to Prince Siddhartha in Lumbini, Nepal, who became the Buddha. Soon after he was born, the Prince took seven steps and lotus flowers sprung up where he walked. The Queen rerouted to return to the palace. Sadly, she passed away seven days after the Prince was born.

The Prince grew up under the watchful eye of his father the King and other compatriots. One day, he left the palace, riding on his horse with a concierge. Outside the palace gates, he encountered the realities of worldly life: birth, illness, old age, and death. When he asked his companions what he was witnessing, he was told that it was the circle of life. 

With resolve in his heart, the Prince decided to become a monk to achieve enlightenment. The Prince went back to the palace and devoted the rest of his life toward learning dharma, forsaking worldly life.

The practice of the dharma brought hardship to the Prince. One day, he met Lord Mara, and achieved enlightenment under a Bodhi tree. By the age of 41, the Buddha had been enlightened for six years.

It was at the age of 41 that the Buddha had a vision that his mother was stuck in Trayastrimsa (the Heaven of Thirty-Three) after her death. Thus he ascended there to offer his teachings to the gods and free his mother from Samsara. 

Lord Buddha had been there for about 90 days when his disciple Maudgalyayana begged him to return to the human realm. The gods there could descend to the human realm because of their celestial power but there was a long debate on whether a human could get to the Heaven of Thirty-Three to see the Buddha. 

After serious deliberation, Lord Buddha decided that he would return to earth for seven days after the night of the full moon. Lord Indira, the ruler of Heaven of Thirty-Three, ordered Vishwakarma, the god of machines, to present three ladders to the Buddha to descend. The ladders were made of gold, beryl, and silver. 

A week later on the 22nd day of the ninth lunar month, the Buddha descended the ladder. He was flanked on both sides by gods with exquisitely adorned umbrellas to protect him from the elements. They honoured him with respect and devotion. 

Lord Buddha descended via the summit of Mount Meru. He then made his way down to the Udumbara tree outside the city of Sankasya (modern-day Uttar Pradesh), a sacred Buddhist location. The event is one of the eight great deeds of the Buddha.

To commemorate the significance of Buddha's appreciation for his mother's benevolence, Bhutanese celebrate Mother's Day on the Descending Day of Lord Buddha.

How do the Bhutanese celebrate the Descending Day of Lord Buddha

On the Descending Day of Lord Buddha, the Bhutanese make a pilgrimage to monasteries to offer prayers and offerings to Lord Buddha.

They believe that on this day, all positive and negative actions are multiplied by 10 million times. 

The festival lasts for seven days, the first of which is a public holiday. 

Among the things the Bhutanese might do on the day to gain merits are:

  • Light a candle or butter lamp
  • Burn incense
  • Attend local teachings at a Buddhist temple
  • Keep all eight precepts for 24 hours like a monk or nun
  • Donate to charity, especially in support of Buddhist Sangha of Monks, Nuns, and Lay teachers
  • Donate to the construction of a stupa or temple
  • Circumambulate a stupa and chant mantras
  • Take formal refuge in the Three Jewels
  • Offer extra offerings if doing so at home; fulfil all practice commitments

Buddha Dordenma, Thimphu

Buddha Dordenma aka Buddha Point is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Bhutan. You can find the largest sitting Buddha in the country at 51.5m tall. The giant statue atop a gilded meditation hall is made of solid bronze and houses 125,000 smaller. From Buddha Point, you can get a panoramic of the beautiful Thimphu valley.

Find out what are the other attractions in Thimphu, Bhutan.



Related Posts

Travel to Bhutan: attractions in the capital of Bhutan, Thimphu

Western Bhutan is the perfect region to learn more about the beautiful kingdom for those who are visiting Bhutan for the...

Jun 29, 2021 12:58

The reason why Bhutan is a kingdom infused with deep spirituality

Most Bhutanese grow up listening and reading stories of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and Guru Rinpoche. Although hugely...

Mar 30, 2021 15:02

Chillies, a spicy affair in Bhutan

The Bhutanese love it hot.

Jun 07, 2022 23:55

Bhutan is traditionally a matriarchal society

Women are the decision-makers at home, but something is keeping them from public life.

May 27, 2022 22:14

What are those singing bowls that you see in Bhutan

The vibrations from the bowl affect your body and mind.

May 22, 2022 12:06

The hot springs of Bhutan are believed to have miraculous healing...

The Bhutanese believe that hot springs are a blessing from the Buddha.

Apr 08, 2022 21:52

Latest

News

Bhutan to host the world’s toughest race

The race will cover a distance of 222 kilometres through difficult terrain, majestic mountains, and lofty glaciers.

Aug 29, 2022 22:08

New Riverside Market opens in Thimphu

As the old centenary farmers market undergoes its much-awaited renovations, the vendors of the first floor have now set up shop at the new...

Aug 15, 2022 18:04

Features

Cordyceps Sinensis, the super mushrooms of Bhutan

Cordyceps Sinensis has many health benefits, which includes being an aphrodisiac.

Sep 25, 2022 16:50

The King of Bhutan regularly visits his people

The royals of Bhutan have an honourable legacy. Visiting their people is part of it.

Sep 25, 2022 16:35

Business

The enormous role of hydropower in Bhutan

Bhutan uses hydropower to conserve the environment, produce electricity, and achieve economic self-reliance.

Jan 25, 2022 11:43

Online businesses are becoming more and more popular in Bhutan

Even though the Internet was developed in the 1960s, the tiny Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan was only introduced to it in June 1999.

Jan 20, 2022 12:41

Sports

More Bhutanese youths are engaged in football

Sitting at the 186th position in the FIFA rankings, Bhutan looks to improve its rankings in the years to come.

Aug 03, 2022 20:19

BOB Bhutan Premier League is coming back soon with a bang

There’s an atmosphere of excitement and anticipation growing in the valleys of Bhutan as football fans in the country await what appears to...

Jul 24, 2022 14:47

Travel

What you need to know about birdwatching in Bhutan

The best seasons and locations for birdwatching in the Kingdom of Bhutan.

Sep 25, 2022 16:57

Bhutan revises its tourism policy to redefine High Value Low Volume tourism

Visitors to Bhutan will now have to pay more than triple the previous Sustainable Development Fees (SDF).

Jul 20, 2022 21:44

Lifestyle

Chillies, a spicy affair in Bhutan

The Bhutanese love it hot.

Jun 07, 2022 23:55

Bhutan is traditionally a matriarchal society

Women are the decision-makers at home, but something is keeping them from public life.

May 27, 2022 22:14

COVID-19

A detailed summary of Bhutan's COVID-19 management and plans moving forward

With offices and all businesses open, movement of vehicles allowed and critical services resumed from 21st March 2022, Bhutan braces for a...

Mar 22, 2022 11:23

Vaccinated tourists to undergo 5-day quarantine in Bhutan from April 25

What you need to know about entering Bhutan from April 25.

Mar 14, 2022 14:21

Subscribe to our newsletter

Never miss out on new happenings and news stories!

Download Daily Bhutan Mobile App

Connecting with us just got easier!