At the start of the day all of the Buddha's at the temple are without robes.
As we enter the temple the largest Buddha is being dressed in swaths of orange fabric. It takes several men and many ropes, but no shouting.
The idea of doing something today for a better tomorrow is not uncommon.
- Don't buy this fancy jacket today so you can buy something else better tomorrow.
That idea based in religion is pretty familiar.
- Pray now so you can go to heaven.
But what about doing something now for your next life?
Inside the temple you can buy a large piece of orange silk from a Monk. (I'm not sure if I should capitalize that or not, but it seems odd not to. )
Please do not mistake this as something you can take away. As a rule if you buy it in the temple, leave it in the temple. Unless it is an amulet or book.
If you have not been acting respectfully it is more than likely they will simply deny you the fabric, saying that it is not for you to buy. You may feel as though you are just another person in the throng but you are noticed I assure you. If you are loud, posing for a photo without a bow, or doing any other the number of things you aren't aware of as being offensive, it is noticed.
In addition to the fabric you are handed a safety pin.
Then, you dress the Buddha.
Of all the Buddha's picking the one that you would like to dress is up to you and your feet. If you have a specific Buddha in mind let them know to make sure you get the correct sized fabric. My mother and dressed two.
Carefully you drape the fabric over the shoulder and pin the two ends of fabric to itself when you are satisfied. Don't touch the Buddha's head. Be mindful of where you put your feet and be gentle.
Act as if you are dressing your grandfather, with respect and grace.
Why do you dress the Buddha?
Principally I believe it is to have warmth and clothing in abundance in your next life.
Dress the Buddha now, so you have clothes later.
Orange symbolizes Gold and so you are also dressing the Buddha in Gold.
Give gold now so that you are provided for and have wealth and wellness in your next life.
Dressing the Buddha felt truly reverent.
I know this stone statue doesn't feel cold, or hot, or my feet or my fingers, but the feeling of dressing the Buddha touched me deeply.
To be able to say: "Here! You are without clothes! Let me provide for you! "
It felt beautiful. It gave me great pleasure and a deep satisfaction and appreciation.
Dressing the Buddha spoke to my core self.
Providing for others is always a satisfying thing for me. If I have something to give that you are in need of it gives me joy to give it.
Lighting candles I understand to be a prayer and have an appreciation for but somehow dressing the Buddha spoke to me more directly and clearly than other acts of offerings and prayer. It didn't feel symbolic. It felt present and real and true.
"You are cold, let me help."