Today is Hana Matsuri, or a flower festival celebrating the birth of Buddha. While historians may debate both his actual birth and death date, the story surrounding his birth is filled with beautiful symbolism.
As the story goes, his mother, the queen Maya, had a dream. In her dream, angels carried her high into the mountains and clothed her in flowers. A white bull elephant carrying a lotus flower in its trunk approached her. After walking in circles around her three times, it struck her on her right side with its trunk and disappeared into her. When she awoke, she told her husband, King Suddhodana, about her dream. He summoned Brahmans to interpret her dream. They revealed that she would give birth to a son, and the son would either be a conqueror or a buddha. Which destiny would be determined depending on whether or not he ever left their household.
When the queen was near birth, she desired to take a trip to her childhood home to give birth. Passing a grove of beautiful flowering trees, Queen Maya chose to enter the grove. As she reached up to touch a blossom, her son was born. At that moment, mother and son were showered with flower blossoms and gently falling rain.
During Hana Matsuri, an altar is decorated with flowers and a statue of the infant Buddha is placed in the middle. The statue is bathed in tea made from hydrangea flowers to represent the rain that fell the day he was born.
Today be certain to take the time to smell the flowers. Slow down. Have a cup of tea. Celebrate life. Read and learn more about the life of Siddhartha Gautama. And remember this:
Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared. - Buddha