Tonight we’re going to see the biggest and brightest full moon of the year as it gets to around 357,000km from earth, which is about 14% closer than when it is farthest away. That’s quite an ellipsis.
That today would be Siddhattha’s birthday and the anniversary of the day he awoke (was ‘enlightened’), and that of the day he died at Kushinara, now the Uttar Pradesh town of Kushinagar, after a tainted meal, was impressed on me by a good friend in a supermarket car park last night as we were discussing the apparent size of the moon in the New Zealand dusk.
If you’re in India or Sri Lanka and you’re a Buddhist, today you will probably be celebrating the Buddha’s birthday. But if you’re in South Korea you would already have celebrated these three events on 28 May, while one day later the folk in Tibet would have been celebrating, both days having been calculated according to a lunar calendar. In Japan though this celebration takes place on 8 April each year.
So tonight at 5:20pm I’ll be on Lyall Bay beach to watch the moonrise and the higher than usual tide come in, and I may contemplate on how much greater mileage the founders of the religion would have received had they scattered these three events on different days in the year.
Don’t get me wrong – I love poetry and the imagery it can evoke. It’s just that, as I told my friend in the car park politely, I stopped believing in fairy tales when I was small.