I was in Jetavana, Shravasti on a cool February evening. Jetavana is the second monastery donated to Lord Buddha. Currently, the ruins of the erstwile monastery is preserved in a huge garden in Sravasti, a district town located about 150kms away from the state capital city of Lucknow. I went round the Ananda Bodhi Tree located close to the entrance, observing the monks chanting in unison paying homage to the lord. The pali chant was very soothing to the ear
“Namo tassa, bhagavato, arahato, samma sambuddhassa” which translated in English essentially means Homage to the blessed one, the Arahant, the perfectly Enlightened one.
I walked through the garden towards the Mulagandha Kuti where Lord Buddha spent 19 rainy seasons preaching, meditating and spreading the message of compassion and kindness. I noticed, tea lights were being placed along the pathways, on the low brick walls of the ruined stupas and monasteries. In Mulagandhakuti, Ivory Buddhas were placed in a line, decorated with orange and yellow marigold flowers. I was completely mesmerized by the beautiful sight and discovered that it was a special evening.
Pilgrim groups from Sri Lanka had organized for a prayer session and would be lighting up the entire garden and stupa area with more than 3000 tea lights. Feeling completely blessed, I settled in a quiet corner waiting for sundown to witness the divine off season Diwali (festival of lights celebrated on a no moon night in Autumn).
The the sun slipped off the horizon and spontaneously a hundred hands reached out for the tea lights placed across Jetavana. I did my bit too, lighting the candles, loving and cherishing the entire experience. The heart overflowed with gratitude for the pilgrims from Srilanka who organized this divine spectacle and the universal master for ensuring that I got the opportunity to experience something so unique. Soon the place was lit up beautifully, the candles flickering with the gentle wind and the soft melodius chants of “Buddham Sharanam Gacchammi, Dhammam Sharanam Gacchammi, Sangham Sharanam Gacchammi” (I seek refuge in Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha) lending a perfect musical backdrop to a truly memorable and golden evening. The pilgrims from the neighbouring island country of Sri Lanka, silently walked around, paying quiet homage but the occasional tear drop, the quivering worn out hands of a some did not go un-noticed. I came to know that some of them spent savings of this life time for the pilgrimage and I was overwhelmed by their act of kindness for including us in this divine celebration. I went round and round, capturing the divine spectacle through the lens of my mind , wishing and praying for the inner light to burn brightly in everyone, weathering every cloud, every storm !!