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Buddhists Celebrate Kwanzaa

December 28, 2011

Yup, they do, all the time.

The 7 principles of Kwanzaa, celebrated during the 7 days between December 26th and January 1st bare striking resemblances to some basic Buddhist ideals.

Check it out…

The 1st day of Kwanzaa, celebrates the principle of UMOJA (pronounced oo-moe-jah), which translates from Swahili to the word UNITY.

Umoja or unity represents a commitment to the ideal of togetherness. It is the foundation principle of the Kwanzaa celebration.

Umoja can be compared to one of the 3 Jewels of Buddhism – The Sangha.

The other 2 of the 3 Jewels are the Buddha and the Dharma, of course. Without Umoja/Unity neither the family nor the sangha can survive. * Just for the Nichiren-ites when most Buddhists say “The 3 Jewels”, it’s what you think mean when you say “The 3 Secret Laws”…sorta, cuz what you actually mean is the Gohonzon, the Diamoku and the place where the Dia-Gohonzon is enshrined; which has absolutely nothing to do with the Buddha, his teachings (the Dharma) and the community of believers (the Sangha) – sigh…and just thinking about that drains all the Umoja right out of me which is the reason to hold fast to the 2nd principle of Kwanzaa…

The 2nd day of Kwanzaa, celebrates the principle of KUJICHAGULIA (pronounced coo-gee-cha-goo-lee-ah) and translates to SELF- DETERMINATION. This principle promotes the idea of taking responsibility for ourselves rather than seeking outside of ourselves, as in a “savior” or a “scroll” to rescue us. If we are to achieve our goals, be they world peace or the rent check, we must take responsibility for that achievement upon ourselves. Self-determination is the essence of freedom – freedom is the essence of enlightenment.

The 3rd day of Kwanzaa, celebrates the principle of UJIMA (pronounced oo-gee-mah) and translates to COLLECTIVE WORK and RESPONSIBILITY.

Individuals working together to build and maintain community, is the same idea of seeking refuge within the sangha. Collective work and struggle are elements of progress.

The 4th day of Kwanzaa, celebrates the principle of UJAMMA (pronounced oo-jah-mah), which translates to COOPERATIVE ECONOMICS. The concept of “African Communal Living” where wealth and resources were shared is the basis of this principle. We profit as we build our economic strength and become able to give back to our community. Taking refuge in the sangha is lovely, and when the sangha has candles, incense, food and toilet paper it’s even better!

The 5th day of Kwanzaa, celebrates the principle of NIA (pronounced nee-ah), which translates to PURPOSE. Taking time to determine and identify the purpose behind all projects undertaken will eventually result in positive achievements. Said another way, “what determines the cause will determine the effect.”

The 6th day of Kwanzaa, celebrates the principle of KUUMBA (pronounced koo-m-bah), which translates to CREATIVITY. Creativity should be encouraged. By building and developing the creative power within us we grow as individuals. Be it through poetry or koans, song or chanting, dance or mudras, sitting zazen or blogging our creative efforts make our practice more beautiful and more beneficial than we inherited.

The 7th and final day of Kwanzaa, celebrates the principle of IMANI (pronounced e-mahn-e), which translates to FAITH. Duh!

Imani represents our belief in ourselves as individuals as a whole. It requires commitment. We must believe within our hearts in our people, our parents, our teachers, and our leaders and through our faith, we can gain the ability and recognize our right to control our own destiny. This sounds a lot like, The Eightfold Noble Path.

Celebrate Kwanzaa today, tomorrow and always. You will be a much better Buddhist when you do.

Q: Habari Gani? (What’s the news?)

A: Namaste’ (The light in me bows to the light in you)

*Kwanzaa was founded in 1966, by Dr. Maulana Karenga, as a way for people of African descent to reflect upon culture and values that emphasize family and community. Special thanks to DEJA’s contribution from Then and Now Reflections on Yesterday©1995 for the information in this post.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. rougebuddha permalink*
    December 26, 2012 6:34 am

    Reblogged this on Rougebuddha’s Blog.

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