A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Y - Z




Maya Devi Temple

Name of a Buddhist temple at Lumbini, located on a small islet situated in a sacred pond, inside a park near Kapilavatthu in present-day southern Nepal. The temple, named after Maha Maya (fig.), is built on the exact spot where the phrasoot, i.e. the birth of Prince Siddhartha, the historical Buddha, took place (fig.). As the Buddha's birthplace, it attracts Buddhist pilgrims from all over the world, often Thai citizens, who belong to the largest Theravada Buddhist country in the world. On the side of the main building is an Asoka pillar (fig.), i.e. one of a series of columns found throughout northern India, often in strategic sites, such as on trade routes, but especially at locations of historical importance to Buddhism that were erected by the Mauryan king Asoka after his conversion to Buddhism, in order to propagate the teachings of the Buddha. The pillar in Lumbini features on the first design of a set of four Thai postage stamps issued in 1971 (fig.). Inside the building, pilgrims circle the remains of the original temple built at the exact spot where the Buddha-to-be was born. The temple and its compound at Lumbini Garden fly several International Buddhist flags, i.e. a flag that consists of 5 vertical and 5 horizontal stripes of the same colour, symbolic of the 5 Buddhist precepts, known as sihnha, i.e. the ‘Five Conducts’ or ‘Five Virtues’, which are also inscribed on a stele, i.e. a stone slab, at the entrance of the park (fig.). In addition to these International Buddhist flags (fig.), Lumbini Garden is also adorned with many so-called prayer flags (fig.), rectangular pieces of white or coloured cloth, with black woodblock-printed texts and images, as used in Nepalese and Tibetan Buddhism. Prayer flags are usually flown on a horizontal string in sets of five colours, that represent the five elements, reminiscent to that of Chinese philosophy, i.e. sky, wind, fire, water and earth, and are arranged in that specific order, starting with blue, then white, red, green, and finally yellow. The centre of a prayer flag traditionally features a horse with a flame on its back (fig.). The horse, known as Lung Ta or ‘Wind Horse’, is a symbol of speed and the transformation of bad fortune to good fortune, whereas the flame on its back represents the Three Jewels of Buddhism. See also POSTAGE STAMPS (1) and (2).