Moon Festival: Cherished Traditions & Legends    
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Greetings, brilliant viewers! Moon Festival, sometimes called Mid-Autumn Festival, is one of the major holidays joyously celebrated by people of Asian ancestry and their good friends. It takes place on the 15th day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar, when the moon is at its fullest and most radiant.

It is a time for the family to come together in the spirit of grace, gladness, and appreciation of life’s tender gifts. Many traditions and legends are associated with the Moon Festival. One of the customs is moon gazing. In fact, the moon and her beauty have fascinated and inspired humanity since time immemorial.

The moon, romantic and mysterious, is the Earth’s satellite, playing a vital practical role in maintaining the Earth’s position, climate, and tides. The cycles of the moon are said to be related to the growth and decline of plants, animals, and human lives. The moon is also closely connected to spiritual life in various cultures. Some societies believe that the rays of the moon have the power of healing and purification.

In Egypt, the moon-god Thoth represents wisdom and justice. The Hindu deity Shiva is adorned with a crescent moon, signifying his perfect mastery of the mind. In Buddhism, the Wheel of Rebirth often depicts Shakyamuni Buddha pointing to the moon, which symbolizes enlightened Nature.

In an international gathering with our Association members in October 2007, Supreme Master Ching Hai revealed that the moon is actually a living being.

One night, when I first came back from America to Spain in that house, and it was the moon light When it’s the moon light, I like to watch; so I come out and watch it. Suddenly all the seagulls waken from their sleep and come out, flying around and singing and dancing all over the place. And the Moon keeps smiling at me, many hours long. Really the face of a smiling person, and my assistant said, “Oh my God. Look at that, Master. Look at that.” Many hours we sit there and it keeps smiling at us.

We were in a mountain and next to the river. Then we were singing with guitar, mandolin, and all kind of things that we had there. Whatever we had, singing. The moon just stood still, really, for many hours, as long as we were there.

The moon is really alive, I am telling you, and if you love it, it will respond. I mean must have love inside, truly love. I love the moon so much.

The tradition of celebrating the Moon Festival dates back to the time of the Tang Dynasty in China. According to ancient manuscripts, on the eve of the 15th day of the eighth month in the lunar calendar, a Taoist priest named Luo Gongyuan saw that the emperor was mesmerized by the moon’s beauty. He offered to take the emperor to the moon with his magic power. Upon arriving at the Moon Palace, the emperor was welcomed by the Moon Goddess who prepared a banquet and entertainment. There, he saw hundreds of fairies dancing to heavenly music.

When he returned to Earth, the emperor made the Moon Festival a national celebration in China in remembrance of the wonder-filled experience.

There are many other enchanting legends regarding the Moon Festival, such as one about the Moon Goddess. Long ago, the Moon Goddess was a graceful and loving fairy living on the moon. At one time, the Moon Goddess had incarnated into our world to save others. After many trials and tribulations, she met the Quan Yin Bodhisattva, who gave her a magic pill. She eventually triumphed in her endeavor to save suffering beings, but lost her life in the process. Touched by her noble sacrifice, God made her the Moon Goddess, and since then she has presided over the magnificent Moon Palace.

In China, the Moon Festival is celebrated with dances and moon gazing. People also enjoy tea and mooncakes with relatives and friends. According to Chinese legend, a beautiful lady named Chang’e resides with the Jade Rabbit in the Moon Palace. It is said that Chang’e, an Earthling, took the elixir of immortality, flew to the moon and became the goddess in that realm.

The Moon Festival is also observed in Formosa (Taiwan) and the Chinese communities of other Asian countries, such as Singapore, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, and the Philippines. In Malaysia, the Mooncake Festival is celebrated with the eating of mooncakes and round fruits that symbolize fullness and family harmony. Lantern processions are joined by children and adults alike. In Hong Kong, the festival is marked by a Fire Dragon Dance where a 220-foot long Fire Dragon is carried through the village of Tai Hang. People perform the Fire Dragon Dance and light firecrackers for health and peace.

Japan also celebrates Moon Festival, calling it “Jugoya,” meaning “night of the full moon.”

In observance of the harvest moon, as it is sometimes called, families nowadays make susuki, or pampas grass arrangements, and dango, or rice dumplings, while viewing the radiant moon.

In ancient times, the Korean people believed that jade rabbits lived on the moon. The story is that when you look at the moon you can see the silhouettes of two rabbits pounding away, making rice cake. One of the traditions of this mid-autumn night is gathering together to make this moon-shaped rice cake, called songpyeon.

Families then enjoy moon gazing together while savoring songpyeon. It is made with green beans, sesame, and chestnut, and is steamed over a layer of pine needles, giving it a wonderful fragrance. This cake is in the shape of a half-moon, symbolizing expansion. The Korean people offer this cake to friends as a wish for each other to grow and develop in mind, body, and spirit.

Korean folk dances are performed at this time, such as the Gang Gang Suwollae, which is formed by a large circle of women under the bright full moon, and Nongak dance, a folk dance celebrating autumn harvest.

In Âu Lạc (Vietnam), shops prepare at least a month in advance to sell mooncakes and lanterns. Aulacese mooncakes, similar to Chinese mooncakes, are made with sweet and fragrant fillings, such as bean paste, lotus seeds, water chestnuts, taro, durian, or coconut. The lanterns used in the festival have many different colors and shapes, like star, half-moon, rabbit, butterfly, even boat and airplane.

At dusk, after enjoying moon cakes with their families, children will light up the lanterns, and join in a candlelit lantern procession with other children in the neighborhood. The Moon Festival in Âu Lạc (Vietnam) also brings us a legend of a man named Cuội, who, on his way to the forest, saw a mother tiger obtaining some leaves from a nearby banyan tree. The concerned and loving mother tiger chewed these leaves and pressed them onto the wound of her cub, who, miraculously, was healed right away.

Realizing this banyan tree in the remote forest was sacred, Cuội brought it home to plant in order to help more villagers in need. Using his knowledge of the healing leaves, Cuội was able to save many human and animal lives, and, believing that Heaven’s blessing should be shared with others, he never charged for his service. One day, his wife carelessly polluted the tree root, and the tree slowly flew up in the air. Cuội, having just come back from his farm work, saw this happening.

He quickly jumped and caught the tree root, but the tree kept flying, eventually taking him to the moon. Since then, on mid-autumn night every year, legend has it that one can see the silhouette of Cuội sitting by the banyan tree on the moon, looking at all beings on Earth, lovingly wishing them peace and healing. Over the years, Supreme Master Ching Hai took time whenever possible from her work of bringing lasting peace to the world to celebrate the Moon Festival together with our Association members. The moments of these reunions are forever priceless.

On September 25, 2007, the day of the Moon Festival celebration, Supreme Master Television staff received a surprise phone call from Supreme Master Ching Hai. It was a great honor for all as our hearts rejoiced upon hearing the sound of our beloved Moon Goddess.

I just want to wish you a good Moon Festival.

Thank you, Master. Happy Moon Festival!

Master, I would like to offer you an Arabic song. It's about the kids of God.

Children of God, right?

Halakat, Halakat, let’s make a big circle for kindness, and goodness. We are the children of God, Brothers and Sisters.

Beautiful, beautiful!

Hi Master. When you talk about true love and the connection in the world, I hope that the whole world desires for the Almighty's Name and that comes through.

It will.

I love you very much. Me too, Master. I love you very much.

On behalf of the Vietnamese here, I sincerely thank you, Master.

You bring the sun to our life every day, Master, and we’re most grateful.

You’re welcome, honey, you’re welcome!

I love you guys.

Thank you, Master!

You’re welcome! It’s getting emotional here, huh! The Moon Goddess is crying. She feels touched by your love. You guys’ love is overwhelming, for me also.

On this Moon Festival, we respectfully wish Supreme Master Ching Hai, much-loved spiritual teacher, guide, and friend of the planet, a tranquil and blessed holiday, as she devotedly helps our world in this time of urgent need. We also sincerely wish all Supreme Master Television viewers and friends a happy and peaceful Moon Festival in the benevolence of the Divine.

Please stay tuned to Supreme Master Television; coming up next is Vegetarianism: The Noble Way of Living, right after Noteworthy News. May the light, love and beauty of the moon and other compassionate beings remain in your heart always.
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