January 24, 2023
Tzu Chi marks Chinese New Year 2023 with 3 steps and 1 bow
By Joy Rojas
Simple rites and community spirit marked Tzu Chi Foundation’s recent celebration of the Lunar New Year.
On January 22, Tzu Chi commissioners, volunteers, staffers, youth, Technical-Vocational students, scholars and their parents, and special guests gathered just before sunrise at the entrance of the Jing Si Abode of Buddhist Tzu Chi Campus (BTCC) in Sta. Mesa, Manila, to participate in the traditional 3 steps and 1 bow. Akin to a pilgrimage, the practice that involves taking three small steps forward before assuming full prostration with palms facing up, denotes humility and obedience to the teachings of Buddha.
“It is very solemn for everyone to pray 3 steps and 1 bow with reverence,” says volunteer Cai Yanyi, who organized the event. Volunteer Lino Sy, who briefed participants on the relevance of the activity, suggested keeping the following in mind with every step and bow: a purified heart, harmonious society, and no disasters.
While most were familiar with the 3 steps and 1 bow, having joined the ritual in major Tzu Chi events in the past, others were experiencing it for the very first time.
William So took the ritual’s message to heart. Unable to secure the requested attire of black socks for the occasion, he walked and bowed barefoot. “It was all about paying respects to Buddha. That’s what was in my mind,” says the father to Jeslynn Cayleen Co So, a longtime Tzu Chi scholar studying at Chiang Kai Shek College. “It was a good experience and I didn’t have a hard time.”
Carl Theodore Delarmente admittedly didn’t think much of the ritual when it was first explained to him. Still, the Grade 10 Tzu Chi scholar from Philippine Cultural College Annex was committed to doing it even if he found the process long. “It’s okay because it was for our benefit,” says the eldest of four children of a solo parent.
Like her fellow scholar, Ashly Kate Catindoy overcame any drowsiness by remaining mindful of organizers’ efforts to make the event a success. “I felt sleepy at first,” says Ashly Kate, a ninth grader at the Center for Positive Futures. “But I thought of all the people who made time to put this activity together. I really appreciated it.”
Indeed, by sticking to it and keeping its purpose in mind, one might just find the practice a moving experience. “I was getting dizzy at first from all the bowing, but once we reached the hedge facing the Jing Si Abode, I felt better. I felt the presence of Buddha,” says Ashly Kate’s mother, Sharon. “I felt like I was floating. What a wonderful feeling to experience this 3 steps and 1 bow.”
With the ritual complete, participants took one last bow in gratitude then relaxed in the outdoor dining space set up by volunteers. There, they celebrated among family members and friends old and new, with a vegetarian fare of miswa, flavored tikoy, kiat kiat, pomelo, and longan.