16 November 2008


  • Sacred within Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and connected yoga and dharma based practices.
  • A mala usually has beads for 108 repetitions of a mantra.
  • Hindu deities have 108 names. Recital of these names, often accompanied by counting of 108-beaded Mala, is considered sacred and often done during religious ceremonies. The recital is called namajapa.
  • It is described in the Srimad Bhagavatam that Krishna dances with 108 'Gopis' (cow-herd girls) in His Vrindavan pastimes, and later marries 16,108 wives in His city of Dwarka. Hare Krishna devotees thus hold 108 as a number of great significance.
  • Siva Nataraja dances his cosmic dance in 108 poses.
  • The total of all digits of 108 (1+0+8) is 9, which in Hinduism is said to represent the 9 tattvas[citation needed]. If you divide 108 by 2 or multiply by 2 the total of all digits again equals 9.
  • 2^2 * 3^3 = 108 ( (2 * 2) * (3 * 3 * 3) )
  • The number of sins in Tibetan Buddhism.
  • In the temple Angkor Wat area there are numerous references to the number 108, which plays a significant role in the symbolism of the structure.
  • Ananda Coomaraswamy holds that the numerology of the decimal numeric system was key to its inception. 108 is therefore founded in Dharmic metaphysical numerology. One for bindu; zero for shunyata and eight for ananta.
  • In Japan, at the end of the year, a bell is chimed 108 times to finish the old year and welcome the new one. Each ring represents one of 108 earthly temptations a person must overcome to achieve nirvana.
  • Zen priests wear juzu (a ring of prayer beads) around their wrists, which consists of 108 beads.
  • Many Buddhist temples have 108 steps.
  • Hindu Kshatriya Dhangars have 108 clans. The lineage of these clans is from solar and lunar dynasties. It should be noted that the diameter of the Sun is 108 times the diameter of the Earth. The distance from the Sun to the Earth is 108 times the diameter of the Sun. The average distance of the Moon from the Earth is 108 times the diameter of the Moon.
  • The Eklingji temple complex includes 108 temples within its walls.
  • In Hindu Astrology there are 12 Rashis or Zodiacs and 9 Planets or Navagrahas. 12 X 9 = 108. There are 27 Lunar mansions or Nakshatras which are divided in 4 Padas or quarters each. 27 X 4 = 108.
  • There are 108 holy temples of Vishnu.
  • Sahasranamastotra or Sahasranama (1008 names (List of 10,000 names is given to a rishi called Tandi by Shiva; the rishi gives it to Upamanyu, and the latter to Krsna in an abridged. He gives only one tenth of the names, viz. 1008 names)) has a total of 108 shlokas.
  • 108 signifies the wholeness of the divinity, perfect totality.
  • The Lankavatara Sutra repeatedly refers to the 108 steps.
  • Marma Adi has 108 pressure points.
  • The Chinese school of martial arts agrees with the South Indian school of martial arts on the principle of 108 pressure points.
  • 108 number also figures prominently in the symbolism associated with Karate, particularly the Goju Ryu discipline. The ultimate Goju-ryu kata, Suparinpei, literally translates to 108. Suparinpei is the Chinese pronunciation of the number 108, while gojushi of gojushiho is the Japanese pronunciation of the number 54. The other Goju-ryu kata, Sanseru (meaning "36") and Seipai ("18") are factors of the number 108.
  • The 108 of the Yang long form and Wing Chun, taught by Yip Man having 108 movements are noted in this regard.
  • Several different Taijiquan long forms consist of 108 moves.
  • Paek Pal Ki Hyung, the 7th form taught in the art of Kuk Sool Won, translates literally to "108 technique" form. It is also frequently referred to as the "eliminate 108 torments" form. Each motion corresponds with one of the 108 Buddhist torments or defilements.
  • Traditionally the Angelus Bell is rung 108 times.
  • Chinese astrology and Tao philosophy holds that there are 108 sacred stars.

05 November 2008

Xia Yuan Festival: The Taoist Thanksgiving

The fifteenth day of the 10th lunar month is a day that is commonly known as the ‘Xia Yuan festival’. (2008/11/12)

This is the birthday of the celestial emperor also known as the Official of Water or the God of Water. According to Taoist cosmology the three primary elements of the universe are Heaven, Earth and Water. There are three celestial officials/emperors governing these realms and they are; the emperor of Heaven, emperor of Earth and the emperor of Water. There are three festivals, at different times of the year that celebrate the wonders associated with these celestial emperors. San Yuan – known as the lantern festival, JungYuan – known as the hungry ghost festival and of course, Xia Yuan.

It is commonly believed that the emperor or official of the waters was charged with the movement and flow of the seas, streams, brooks, rivers and rain but also to address the aspect of human sin and alleviating the hardships incurred by the average person. To pay their respects people will provide offerings to the emperor of the Waters during the Xia Yuan festival. By praying to him on this day, in a sincerely remorseful way, it is suggested that all your sins and misfortunes can be deleted from the ‘spiritual records’ and you are free to turn over a new leaf.

This festival is not that well known and is a traditional Taoist celebration held in the latter part of the year. It is therefore selected to perform the Hsieh Ping An – Thanksgiving for safety and well being ceremony in the local temples to show gratitude to the gods for the safe year and good harvests. We all know the benefit of being grateful for what you have.

Each member of the community is able to participate in this ceremony. It is expected that each man provide an amount of ‘Ting Ah’ (money) and every woman ‘Ban Ting’ (half the amount of money) as a contribution towards the Hsieh Ping An ceremony and its associated activities. It is the opportunity to present and reinforce the solidarity through the bonds of the earth, the temple and the celestial beings.

In the Taoist temples, the ceremony of ‘Hsieh Ping An’ is held to offer sacrifices. Hsieh Ping An also called Hsieh Dong meaning ‘thanksgiving in winter’, is the most cheerful and exciting activity in the community at that time of the year. Generally, theatre groups will come to the temple forecourt and produce their plays over the course of several days. At night street vendors will set up stalls around the temple forming a temporary night market providing varying types of recreational activities. It is for celebrating the good harvest and relaxing after a hard years work.
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