The Samayak (Dana) a Sanskrit term, means
"Correct (Charity)" The solemn ceremony of regular Samayak, take's place once in
twelve years in the Swoyambhu Hill in Kathmandu. It is the most momentous and grandest of
Kathmandu city's Buddhist religious performances.
An optional Samayak ceremony can also be performed by private
individual donors, but its undertaking is so highly expensive that it has not been
performed in Kathmandu was by a wealthy merchant name Samayak Ratna Tuladhar of Nhyakha.
The celebration of Samayak ceremony draws all high caste Newar
Buddhists together to participate in free-feasting and gifts-offering to Gubhajus and
Beares (Newar Buddhist priests and monk-gurus) functions for the worship of major Buddhist
|The celebration of Samayak also reflects the
relationship that is happily existing between the monarch and the Buddhist community.
During Samayak celebrations, images of Buddha from the farthest corners of Kathmandu
Valley are brought to the royal palace at Hanuman Dhoka.
royal family gives patronage and participates in the mass donation in celebration of the
The celebration of Samayak involves feeding boiled rice, pulse
gruel, radish curry, sweets etc. and offering different kinds of soft drink and gifts to
the Bares. Boiled rice, pulse gruel, sweets etc. served at the feast are prepared by
Urayas and radish curry, by Ares from Itumbahal.
If the optional Samayak ceremony is performed by a person of
another caste other than Gubhaju, Bare and Uraya, boiled rice is not customarily served at
the feast. As for example, when such a ceremony was performed in the time of Junga Bahadur
Rana by Dharma Narayan Manandhar, only parched rice and not boiled rice was offered.
Similarly in 1948, when it was performed by a Ranjitkar of Mazipat, only GULMARI, a
confectionery item made from rice flour, was offered in place of boiled rice.
Only Gubhajus, Bares and Urayas have the right and obligation
to be involved in the operation system and management processes of the Samayak
|There is evidence to support the view
that the celebration of Amyak was first started in the 15th century by Golchandra of
Itumbahal. The "Samayak Celebrations Trust" was gradually established over time
and plots of land were placed under its trusteeship to ensure sustainability in the
celebration of Samayak once in three years performed on a regular basis for several
reasons and it virtually stood on the point of being discontinued.
Historical records illuminate that king Prithivi Narayan Shah the Great
ensured the celebration of Samayak on a regular and continuing basis once in twelve years
by institutionally consolidating and management and resources of the "Samayak
Celebration Trust". It is true that had it not been for this reason, the performance
of regular Samayak could not have been maintained till the present.
Huge bronze statues of Buddha constitute the spectacular
feature of the Samayak celebration. There are two types of Buddha image. There are those
from each of the main monasteries that are meant to represent the main deity of the
monastery. Normally it is the Shakyamuni Buddha. Secondly, there are images of Dipankara
Buddha belonging to particular families that have been created by individuals who have
performed optional Samayak (Dana) ceremonies. These Dipankara Buddhas are individual
donors of optional Samayak (Dana) ceremony themselves. One of the ideas behind Mahayani
Buddhist ritual is the identification of the worshipper with the deity.
|On the eve of Samayak celebration, huge bronze
statues of Dipankar Buddha and other Buddhist divinities are brought to the royal palace
at Hanuman Dhoka where they receive worship and alms from the royal family and the general
public. Next day, they after the arrival of His Majesty the King that the Samayak
celebration commences. Seated in a special pavilion built on this occasion, His Majesty
the King observes while the assembled deities, Gubhajus and Bares receive mass offering.
Dipankara Buddha has come to be associated with the virtues of Buddhist
alms giving. The principal scripture related to Dipankara Buddha is the Kapisarvananda. It
stresses the importance of feeding and giving alms to the monastic community.Buddhist
monks cannot claim anything from the laymen yet it is considered as the laymen's duty and
privilege to provide monks with food, clothes, lodging and whatever else they might
legitimately need. It is the most obvious and easy method for laymen to acquire religious
The monk by leading a good life to the best of his ability
ensures that the gifts provided by the piety of laymen and laywomen earn for them the
fruitiest reward. It is a meritorious thing to maintain and provide comforts to those who
have renounced the world.
The Buddhist scripture of Kapisarvananda begins with the story
of a boy named Dharmashree who has nothing to offer to Dipankara Buddha but a pile of dust
he has been playing with. Because he offers it with such a pure mind, it turns into gold.
Dipankara Buddha predicts that he be reborn in the royal family in the city of Dipawati.
The King of Dipawati (Shakyamuni Buddha in his previous life), Sarvananda gave alms of
meal to Dipankara Buddha and his disciples. As a result he could attain Buddhahood and
become popularly known as Shakyamuni Buddha in his next life. Symbolic of this is the
performance of Samayak (Dana) ceremony. The implication of this celebration is that an
ordinary devotee of today can also, by giving alms of meal to the monastic community, set
out on the path to enlightenment as the Buddha. It is tempting to assume that the age-old
Samayak celebration of Kathmandu has grown out of the prevalent Buddhist practice of
giving alms of meal to the monastic community.
The regular Samayak celebration that takes place once in every
twelve years is scheduled to be held on the first day of the month of Magh (January 14,
1993) this year in accordance with the glorious time honored Mahayani Buddhist tradition.