With the 3-in-1 celebrations for Buddha Day, Tzu Chi Day and Mother’s Day held on May 14 at the Marikina Sports Center, the celebration touches on several aspects of the important day. The event, which is held every second Sunday in May, highlights the celebration of the establishment of the Tzu Chi Foundation; as well as the birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha, the principle figure of Buddhism; as well as celebrating Mother’s Day; which gives importance and celebrates the importance of one’s mother in their daily lives.
The celebration proper comes part and parcel with a ‘Washing of the Feet’ ceremony for the mothers, grandmothers and other female figures at home done by their respective children or grandchildren. The washing of the feet gesture is a tribute to humility and respect, as well as paying homage to all the sacrifices that a mother accomplishes in order to take care of their family.
Close to 300 pairs of mothers and children participated in this year’s washing of the feet. During the actual ceremony itself, it is a common sight to see children bowing at the feet of their mothers, before proceeding with the simple yet meaningful ceremony.
Along with the washing of the feet comes a gift from the children in the form of a red rose that symbolizes love; as well as having the mothers have a drink of water, if but to refresh themselves for a few moments while their children take a few moments to contemplate the meaningfulness of the ceremony.
For 66 year-old Celina Bael, this is her third time attending the yearly event; yet it is actually her first time to participate in the washing of the feet ceremony. She watches appreciatively as her granddaughter Ashley goes through the motions of pouring water and then soaping her feet.
“I felt so good, like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. My body feels much better, too,” she remarks after the brief but meaningful ceremony had been completed.
The grandmother shares that due to her grandchild Ashley’s parents being engaged in negative vices, they have neglected their duties in taking care of their daughter; and she has taken it upon herself to raise her granddaughter.
“I hope that my granddaughter will be able to finish her studies; it’s a waste if she didn’t. She’s intelligent too,” she shares. The elderly Celina has taken the helm of sending her granddaughter to school; as well as providing for her basic necessities at home.
For first-time attendee Sara Mae Gabertar, the event is an experience she’ll never forget. Her initial contact with Tzu Chi is thanks to a relative of hers who lives in the Tatalon area in Quezon City who is also one of the Foundation’s regular rice beneficiaries. While it is her relative’s second time attending the event, it is Sara Mae’s first, and her observations about the event in general are very positive.
“I’m amazed on what I’ve seen and learned today from this occasion. I wasn’t expecting it to enjoy myself here, and at the same time it’s a very special occasion because I was expecting it to be just an ordinary event; yet when I finally got the chance to participate, I wasn’t expecting to be moved to tears with what I’ve witnessed, especially with the washing of the feet ceremony and the prayer at the very end,” Sara Mae shares.
At the same time, she also has a message for Master Cheng Yen.
“To Master Cheng Yen, I want to say ‘thank you’ for inspiring us, especially the young children that are ready to give respect to their parents; especially their mothers. They have humbled themselves in front of their mothers, and are ready to give them their respect; as well as acknowledging the difficulties their parents have to endure while raising them,” she adds.
For Rosalie Onia, the 3-in-1 ceremony touches on the importance of the Tzu Chi Foundation’s tolerance and respect for other religions. While she is a Catholic by faith, the lessons and teachings of the Buddha are something to contemplate on.
“Tzu Chi respects religious boundaries; even if we’re Catholic, they (Tzu Chi) tolerate other religious beliefs and spreads the teachings of the Buddha to everyone who’s willing to learn as well as willing to help out others,” Rosalie shares.
While Tzu Chi never seeks to convert other peoples to the belief of Buddhism, instead it encourages people to learn and understand the teachings of Buddhism’s greatest figure, Siddharta Gautama—more well-known as the Buddha, and founder of Buddhism.
“This is a very good event, because you can learn a lot of life lessons here. With the Buddha (and Buddhism), they have a lot of teachings that even we Catholics can adapt and follow, so that the world can be a nicer place to live in,” she adds.
Worth the effort
After the 2017 3-in-1 celebrations concluded at around 7:30 in the evening, staff members alike are seen bustling around in a flurry of activity. With the task of removing the floor markers having already been accomplished by the formation participants, the rest of the venue must be tidied up and cleared out in a matter of hours.
“With our packing-up process, we have to keep everything that we’ve laid out over the past few days in a matter of hours. The reason why we have to do this quickly is because we were lent the venue to use for the event, and we must leave it in the same condition before we came here to set up for our event,” shares Tzu Chi volunteer Rico Balid.
For Tzu Chi staff member Rene Diolata, his knowledge of electrical wiring has served useful when it came to setting up the tables for the altars where the crystal Buddhas have been placed prior to the ceremony. Now that the event is over, he is seen packing away the lightbulbs underneath the altar; as well as helping to move the tables used for the altars to their proper place so that they can be taken back to storage.
“To be honest, we’re all tired because we’ve been here since yesterday, getting everything set up, and now we’re going to be here until late in the evening packing up everything that was used for the event. But at the same time, I’m happy to be here because I was one of the staff members to pitch in some time and help for the Buddha Day (celebrations),” he ends.
Prior to the washing of the feet proper, several of the children strike a pose for the camera. Among them is Ashley Bael (2nd from right), who will be participating in the simple ceremony for her grandmother, Celina.【Photo by Erin Uy】
After successfully completing the ‘washing of the feet’, Celina Bael gives her granddaughter Ashley a heartwarming kiss on the cheek for the simple, yet meaningful gesture.【Photo by Erin Uy】
Prior to the end of the event proper, formation participants pay their respects to the Buddha by dipping their fingers in the scented water; which is symbolized to be cleaning oneself of the spiritual impurities within.【Photo by Erin Uy】
Rosalie Onia (2nd from right) prepares herself for the Buddha Bathing ceremony, along with other participants who are waiting at the front for their cue.【Photo by Erin Uy】
It is Sara Mae Gabertar’s (left) first time to participate in the 3-in-1 ceremony. It is thanks to a relative of hers in the Tatalon area she has been exposed to the Tzu Chi culture.【Photo by Erin Uy】