Bathing The Baby Buddha

posted Feb 25, 2011, 7:53 AM by Jundo Cohen   [ updated Mar 20, 2011, 7:07 PM ]
On the day of Vesak, participate in a ceremony (with your Sangha and priests, or at home with your family) in which all participants bathe a figure of baby Buddha in tea or fragrant water. This tradition is found in many Buddhist cultures and traditions. 

Buddhist stories and traditions tell the tale of how, when the Buddha was born, he immediately took seven steps and declared "I alone am the World-Honored One," pointing up with one hand and down with the other to indicate that he would unite heaven and earth. Some say that the seven steps represent seven directions -- north, south, east, west, up, down, and here -- standing for all reality. Mahayana Buddhists often interpret "I alone am the World-Honored One" such that "I" represents all sentient beings throughout space and time -- everyone in other words. Many other good and positive meanings and teachings be found in such stories.

The ritual of "Bathing the Baby Buddha" celebrates this moment. It is said to be the single most common ritual in Buddhism, seen throughout Asia and in many different schools. A small standing figure of the infant Buddha, with the right hand pointing up and the left hand pointing down, is placed on an elevated stand within a basin on an altar. People approach the altar reverently, fill a ladle with clear water or tea, and pour it over the figure to "wash" the baby (based on information from

Below are examples of such a ceremony ... both a simple version for at home and a longer version for adaptation by Buddhist Sangha. 

If you cannot find a traditional statue of the Baby Buddha, make one with your kids! Find a large, smooth stone and help your child/children paint a figure of Baby Buddha on it. In fact, why not take an ordinary child's baby doll and, with reverence and respect, dedicate it to serving as the Baby Buddha?! The sincerity of our doing so is found in the heart.