Every year in the United States, the second Sunday of May is marked with Mother’s Day celebrations. Across the globe however, Buddha Day (also known as Vesak Day) also takes place and is a spiritual holiday that commemorates the birth, enlightenment, and death of the Buddha. But, did you also know: around the world, we also celebrate Global Tzu Chi Day, in honor of the founding, achievements, and future of Tzu Chi- Dharma Master Cheng Yen’s mission of compassion and relief for all those who suffer in our world.
At Tzu Chi, we celebrate these three auspicious occasions with a Buddha Bathing Ceremony, a spiritual tradition in which devotees make internal vows to cleanse the mind, heart, and spirit, moving forward with a clean slate. For more about the ceremony, watch Bathing the Buddha: A Tradition of Respect, Reflection, & Love from US Tzu Chi 360.
The ceremony then is often followed with a celebration of mothers – whether it be through the gift of flowers, a tradition where we symbolically ‘bathe’ mothers’ feet, or a vegetarian meal we share with the whole family. Regardless, each celebration we host is different. See it for yourself across these 14 US cities!
Tzu Chi USA’s Headquarters Region, based in San Dimas, CA, held its annual celebration at the Tzu Chi Education Campus in the nearby city of Walnut. Dharma Masters, special guests, the general public, and students from our school were all in attendance, totaling 420 guests. After the ceremony, children gave flower arrangements to their parents and gracefully presented snacks and special teas. Hugs could be seen all around.
Down in the Peach State, Tzu Chi’s Atlanta Branch Office held a small ceremony in which the Atlanta community and volunteers paid tribute to the Buddha and moms. Volunteers began by introducing Tzu Chi for the benefit of all guests. Many of the crowd’s littlest, too, performed a song in sign language! Finally, mothers were invited to take a seat with children from the crowd serving them cups of tea. It was a heartfelt tribute to their maternal care and love.
Over in Newton, nearby downtown Boston, Tzu Chi volunteers did an outdoor procession of prostration. It’s a tradition that imbues humility, reverence, and devotion to the path of the Dharma. Volunteers culminated their journey with an indoor ceremony, for the public and families to partake in.
Cedar Grove, NJ
Up north in New Jersey, there was all kinds of family fun with a variety of games, flower arranging, and a bamboo bank presentation. Our Buddha Bathing Ceremony was all the more special, too, with the blessings of local Dharma Masters.
In Chicago’s suburb of Darien, Tzu Chi Midwest hosted a Buddha Bathing Ceremony with nearly 600 people in attendance. The grounds were swept clean outside for tents and foods to be served, where attendees could enjoy a hot, freshly prepared vegetarian meal. Children from Tzu Chi Academy in Downer’s Grove also attended and paid tribute to mothers and teachers with red carnations.
Further south at Tzu Chi Central, located in the Dallas suburb of Richardson, celebrated its ceremony in its beautiful, stained-glass chapel. Once a church, it is adorned with a massive steel organ and solid wood pews. Guests from the public and volunteers participated in the ceremony, including ages young and old.
While it was raining and chillier in the northeast, Tzu Chi Northeast held its lush ceremony outdoors in a park in Queens. Having setup the day before, including line markings and more, on Mother’s Day it poured. Still, volunteers and the public came, tarps were set up over holding areas, and each guest was given a rain poncho. No amount of bad weather could hinder their devotion. It was truly a beautiful sight to behold.
In the Aloha State, Tzu Chi Pacific Islands celebrated Mother’s Day with a Buddha Bathing Ceremony that featured local orchids and plumeria flowers, with white petals and sunny yellow centers. The richness of Hawaii’s greenery gave it a special touch, that both honored the Hawaiian Islands and beautified the day for all guests in attendance.
In the Houston suburb of Dickinson, Tzu Chi Southern hosted a beautiful Buddha Bathing Ceremony replete with lunch for all guests. The vegetarian delights were prepared on-site with the help of culinary volunteers, and packed neatly into boxes for each guest with a sampling of fine foods. Upon exiting the main hall where Buddha Bathing activities were held, volunteers waited to pass out red carnations to all the mothers in attendance, offering a delicate yet thoughtful surprise to all those there with their families.
Long Island, NY
Families living in New York’s Nassau and Suffolk Counties came together as part of Tzu Chi Long Island to celebrate Mother’s Day and Buddha Day- away from the rain that came upon their New York City brothers and sisters. Students from Long Island’s Tzu Chi Academy and their parents came to pay their respects all around with a sign language performance. At the end, mothers could take photos with some handmade photo props honoring moms and their care.
Volunteers in Miami, too, organized festivities for the whole family on Mother’s Day. Volunteers introduced Tzu Chi and demonstrated the origins of our bamboo bank, giving the audience a better understanding of what drives our mission of compassion and relief.
In Tzu Chi, too, all ages are encouraged to take part in the Buddha Bathing Ceremony, even the littlest children, including students from Tzu Chi Academy in Pembroke Pines, FL. As in Tzu Chi Atlanta, mothers were invited up for children to present and share handmade art with them- a heartfelt way to share warmth and a token of love.
New York, NY
In the city that never sleeps, the Tzu Chi Center in midtown Manhattan hosted a Buddha Bathing Ceremony with many guests from the public present, including Chinatown’s longtime elderly residents. Present with us were Dharma Masters, multiplying the blessings shared among all.
At Tzu Chi’s Greater Washington DC Region, volunteers made paper flowers, which were given as gifts to mothers who attended the ceremony. Beautiful samplings of fine vegetarian foods were also plated and served to guests, giving them a healthy and filling snack that was both mindful and ethical.
San Jose, CA
At Tzu Chi Northwest, hundreds of guests, including local Dharma Masters and local residents, attended our Buddha Bathing Ceremony. The lush decor of the ceremony was echoed in the succulents that were made by children and given to parents as gifts. They were planted in hardened eggshells, giving food waste a practical second life.