4th International Bhikkhuni Day

4th International Bhikkhuni Day

In 2011, Susan Pembroke, founder and former president of Alliance for Bhikkhunis, had the brilliant idea of establishing a global, grassroots effort to learn about, celebrate and  pay respect to the Bhikkhuni Sangha, honoring their essential role in preserving the Dhamma.  She suggested we do this by holding an International Bhikkhuni Day (IBD).  The women we honor may be inspiring historical figures, ordained women or laywomen teachers who have transformed our practice.  It is also an opportunity to do some ‘friend-raising’, to introduce people to the Bhikkhuni Sangha and to the efforts of AfB to raise funds to help support bhikkhunis and their viharas and monasteries.

At the time Susan said, “On this day, we will celebrate our spiritual legacy, learn about the history of prominent Buddhist women, meditate, as well as raise funds to support bhikkhunis. How do we accomplish these things? We simply gather in a circle, meditate together, and talk about the women we love and admire.”

Each year AfB has chosen a women, or group of women to honor and learn about:  Mahapajapati (the Buddha’s stepmother and the first bhikkhuni), Sanghamitta (who established the first Bhikkhuni Sangha in Sri Lanka) and last year the “Seven Sisters” (seven enlightened arahants of early Buddhism).  This year it will be Yasodhara, wife of Siddhartha Gautama.

Susan chose the date to be a time around the full moon in September, when Mahapajapati, the first bhikkhuni was ordained, marking the start of the Bhikkhuni Sangha.  This year celebrations will be on or around September 6, 2014.

The first year we were surprised at how many sanghas and viharas participated, mostly in California, but also two in the UK, one in Canada and one in Australia.  Each year more groups have participated Last year we had 15 groups including several in Asia and South America!  And each year more and more generous donors have filled dana baskets at their events, donated the dana to their local bhikkhunis or forwarded it to us so we can continue to support the bhikkhuni sangha.

Half or full-day retreats can take place in a center or temple, or just as easily in someone’s home, with as few as three people gathering to practice and talk. The Alliance for Bhikkhunis website has downloadable brochures which can be customized for your event, audio and video Dhamma talks,  and a wide variety of articles about bhikkhunis.

You will be among hundreds of people joining in this effort, all of us connected that day through our meditation, and deep listening and sharing.

Alliance for Bhikkhunis (AfB) is looking for IBD ambassadors and volunteers now to join in this annual day of respect by holding an IBD event in your local sangha, monastery, vihara or community, honoring Yasodhara. If you feel a heart connection to the cause of supporting the revival of Theravada Bhikkhunis and would like to be part of the AfB mission, please consider helping out as an IBD ambassador and host for a day this year, no matter where you live in the world!

Though International Bhikkhuni Day falls on September 6, your community can choose any day in September, October, November or beyond to celebrate with a Dhamma talk, retreat, puja or simple meditation with other Dhamma communities around the world. The idea is to teach people and raise awareness about Bhikkhunis, their history and their important role in the Fourfold Assembly! Celebrations will range from formal events in temples to discussing the feminine in Buddhism over a cup of tea.

Please contact us at info@bhikkhuni.net if you are interested in this worthwhile, annual day of celebration.

Below is material you can use for your event

This year on International Bhikkhuni Day (IBD) we have been offered a special treat by the producers of the video, “The Buddha’s Forgotten Nuns”. They have generously offered a free viewing of the full length, 34-minute film from September 6 – 13 as part of an IBD event.

If you are planning to hold an IBD event, please contact us at info@bhikkhuni.net with information on your event to obtain the information required for access to the film. If you are not holding an IBD event, we hope you will spend the modest US $3.99 to rent this beautiful film. It is an incredible bargain and supports the efforts of the filmmakers.

For more info about this film, visit the film’s blog at: http://www.bhikkhunidocumentary.com/

Customizable flyers to download

Yasodhara and Siddhartha The Enlightenment of Buddha’s Wife
by Jacqueline Kramer

Yasodharā, the Wife of the Bōdhisattva
Translated with an Introduction and Notes by Ranjini Obeyesekere

The Buddha’s Forgotten Nuns
Excellent documentary produced by the South Australian production company, Budaya Productions.  The director, Wiriya Sati, traveled to monasteries in Thailand, UK, U.S.A. and Australia investigating the issues of ordaining as a bhikkhkuni in the Theravada tradition.
Rent on Vimeo for $3.99
View  trailer
For more info about this film, visit the film’s blog at: http://www.bhikkhunidocumentary.com/

Song written by Inger Marie Møller and Arjuna Govinda of Denmark about Yasodhara

Additional material for use at IBD events