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Monday, June 08, 2009

Adolescents celebrate rite of passage in Essen

Jnanacandra, Chair of the FWBO's Centre in Essen, Germany, writes -

"On May 1st four teenagers celebrated an important day in their lives at the Essen Buddhist Centre. In the company of family and many friends they celebrated the fact that they had left childhood behind them and were now embarking on the exciting and challenging path to adulthood.

"This was the second time that such a rite of passage was held at an fwbo Centre. Prasadavati led the ritual very beautifully and reminded both the teenagers and the parents of the deeper meaning of this step.

"Both the parents and adolescents ritually invoked the powerful forces involved in the process of growing up. They remembered the good times that they had spent together and expressed their mutual gratitude, appreciation and respect by bowing to each other and exchanging a symbolic gift.

Then the parents enacted the process of letting go by cutting off a strand of their children‘s hair which they later cast into a river. For the adolescents this also symbolized their growing independence of their parents - and Prasadavati reminded them of the fact that growing freedom also entails growing responsibility. Finally each of the teenagers listened to a moving „rejoicing in merits“ that reminded them of the many wonderful qualities that each of them possesses and encouraged them to make the best use of them.

"Two professional musicians, the grandparents of one of the girls, played wonderful music on cello and german flute - this helped create a very special and moving atmosphere around the ritual. The pieces they had chosen conveyed the distinct flavour of the different phases of the ceremony. The ritual ended with the singing of the blessings and a loud and heartfelt threefold „sadhu“ from all present.

"Dana, Derya, Gina and Ella are all 13 or 14 years old and daughters of members of the Essen Sangha. They themselves don‘t necessarily consider themselves buddhist and the ceremony didn‘t involve any commitment to buddhism on their side – but it certainly reflected buddhist values like gratitude, respect, appreciation, personal responsibility and the possibilities of conscious development.

"Many of the buddhist and non-buddhist guests present expressed their appreciation of this event. Any centre that might be interested in offering their young people such a rite of passage is very welcome to contact Jnanacandra at the Essen Buddhist Centre for details:

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