The Probarona Celebration

Rumay Barua

Probarona holds great significance as a holy day for Buddhists. PROBBARONA is a significant religious festival celebrated by Buddhists.

PROBBARONA holds great significance among the limited number of significant events associated with the life of the Great Buddha. In Pali literature, “PROBBARONA” conveys various meanings, including welcoming, gratification, invitation, courtesy, entreaty, pardon, restraint, and renunciation.

One of the characteristics of PROBARONA is that Buddhist monks practice austerity for three months and cultivate forgiveness towards one another.

“PROBARONA” refers to rejecting unrighteous deeds and embracing righteous deeds.
In Buddhist terms, the period from Bangla Ashadi Purnima to Ashwini Purnima is called Varsha Basa, lasting for three months. In Bangladesh, Buddhists refer to Asadhi Purnima Chota as ‘Chadang’ and Ashwini Purnima as ‘Big Chadang’.

The large ‘canopy’ refers to the PROBARONA full moon. The term ‘Chadang’ is derived from the Burmese language. According to multiple sources, the Chittagong area was under Arkan rule for approximately 1,500 years. The rituals of the Arkanis followed the Burmese style. The people of Chittagong were accustomed to following their rules during that time.

During our lifetime, we have encountered several Burmese words, such as ‘Chadang’, that were commonly used and are still in use in some cases. The word ‘Chhadang’ is also derived from them. Since then, the name ‘Chadang’ has become widely recognised and popular among Buddhists. The three months of the year hold great significance for Buddhists, as they are considered the most auspicious time. On this bright day of Purnima, Tathagata Gautama Buddha made his way to Sankasya Nagar after paying homage to the revered mother goddess Abhidharma. He addressed the Venerable Bhikkhu Sangha, instructing them to henceforth propagate the good deeds of Bahujan, spreading happiness and well-being in all directions.

Starting the following day, Danottam Shubh will be accepting solid chibar donations. Buddhist monks would travel from cities to villages to spread their teachings.

During these three months, the Buddhist community engages in religious practices, austerity, humanitarian work, sacrifice, patience, tolerance, and moderation. However, Lord Tathagata Gautama Buddha delivered this instruction to the Bhikkhu Sangha.

During three months, the Bhikshusanghras must stay overnight in their own Vihar and are not allowed to spend the night in any other Vihar. There is an explanation for this phenomenon. During those three months, we experienced a heavy monsoon season. However, we now witness a seasonal shift due to global climate change. During the rainy season, the Tathagata Buddha addressed the Sangha of monks, saying, “Dear monks, I would like to bring to your attention that during this time, there is a significant increase in the presence of various insects.” The Buddha also taught us to refrain from harming or obstructing even the smallest creatures, such as insects, through our actions. Ideally, you aim to reside in Bihar and devoutly practice your religion. Embrace the principles of welfare. I am observing the monks. Many Buddhist men and women observe religious practices during these three months of abstinence. During every Amavasya, Purnima, and Ashtami Tithi, people observe Upos Vrata, a fasting ritual, between the Ashtashila observances.

What is the significance behind Buddhists lighting lanterns or sky lamps? According to tradition, Siddhartha Gautama left his home and eventually arrived at the banks of the river Anoma before attaining Buddhahood. At that moment, he pondered, “The neatly styled hair on my head doesn’t seem appropriate for Prabrajit.” He performed the satyakriya by holding a hair-lock with an ausi in his right hand and a royal crown in his left and then throwing it upwards. If I am truly capable of achieving Mahajnana (Buddhism) in this lifetime, then the Kesarashi, adorned with this crown, will ascend to the heavens. His hair stood tall, reaching towards the sky. The gods of Tabatingsh heaven took Kesarashi and established Chulamoni Chaitya, where they began to be worshipped. The news quickly spread throughout the entire state. Since then, Kumar Siddhartha’s Kesrashi has been honoured and held in high regard yearly.

During PROBARONA, Buddhists from various parts of the world, including Bangladesh, express their devotion to Gautama Buddha by raising lanterns. Fanus brings purity by illuminating the inner world of humanity and eliminating sins, blindness, and superstitions. During the PROBARONA festival, Buddhist pagodas are adorned with beautiful illuminations. Multiple programmes are being considered.

Buddhist men and women, children, teenagers, young men, young women, and old people come together, creating a harmonious atmosphere as the lantern rises, filling the sky with the resounding chant of “sadhu.” The excellent musical instruments of Buddhu Kirtan, Dhak, and Mridanga create a unique atmosphere. The youth, in particular, display noticeable enthusiasm. The youth celebrate the PROBARONA festival with great splendour, engaging in joyful singing and dancing. During the evening, people go from house to house to make arrangements for exceptional festival food, which typically includes ingredients such as chira, jaggery, coconut, and banana. The tradition of food has been passed down for generations in Buddhist villages.

The primary festival that the Buddhist community observes is Buddhapurnima. However, it also holds significance for people of all castes and creeds because of the grand lantern hoisting ceremony on PROBARONA Purnima. The hard Cheebar Danotsav begins the day after Probarona and lasts for an entire month. In a Vihar, if a Bhikkhu does not spend three months as a monk or complete a rainy season, they will not receive a hard chibar. The Chibar Donation Organisation is currently conducting a month-long campaign, spanning from rural villages to urban areas. In preparation for the challenging Cheebar festival, devotees from every region of Bihar diligently planned and organised various programmes several months in advance to successfully execute them.

Bihar is currently in a festive mood. After completing the tasks of pindaan and pujaparva in the morning, the challenging cheebardan work begins in the afternoon. The elaboration is derived from the Tripitaka and discussions on social development. Criticisms, as well as monks and guests, flocked in large numbers to participate in the challenging Chibar Donation event. Some people give dharma, while others choose to listen to it. Solid Cheebar also demonstrates its commitment to social responsibility by focusing on donations. Sports competitions are organised to motivate children, teenagers, and adults alike.

The ideals of non-violence, peace, and friendship embodied by Gautama Buddha inspire people from all walks of life. It is not limited to religious activities; instead, we devote our lives to serving others and promoting the well-being of humanity. Promote innovative thinking for future generations and support individuals in need.

Only then can we create a wonderful society. PROBARONA will only be of real value at that point. May the radiant glow of the lantern illuminate the hearts of all, spreading its light throughout the world. May peace prevail in every corner of our planet. 

May all beings in the world be happy.

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