July Chokor, also known as Chokor Duchen is a Nepalese and Tibetan festival which is celebrated to mark the very first teaching of Lord Buddha.
The word Chokor means the Dharma wheel or the Prayer wheel and Duchen refers to a special occasion. These wheels are made out of wood and have metallic cylinders connected to a handle and turning these wheels is believed to spread blessings.
Various Buddhist mantras are engraved on these wheels. Among the four major holidays mentioned in the Tibetan Buddhist Calendar, July Chokor is the one of great importance. This day is celebrated in the honor of the very first turning of the Dharma wheel by Lord Buddha, the creator of Buddhism.
According to people’s belief and tradition, Lord Buddha was not completely convinced that his teachings, which he had discovered through constant meditation, could be of any use to change the lives of other people like it had did to him. Convincing him took the intervention of the two Gods, Indra, who is the king of the Gods in Hinduism and Brahma, who is the creator.
They had to intervene to persuade Lord Buddha to spread his teachings to the common men and make their life more meaningful. After this Lord Buddha had addressed his five companions, who had accompanied him to the forest, regarding the four truths of life which are:
- The truth of Suffering: The very first teaching conveys that life is a suffering. Even though we might come across things that make us happy, it is still a suffering since nothing is everlasting and will come to an end sooner or later.
- The truth of the cause of Suffering: The second truth conveys that the only cause behind this suffering is a man’s thirst or craving. We are never satisfied with our success and are always hungry to achieve more. We are always searching for something outside our own self to make us feel happy. On being unable to achieve things in life we get frustrated and that brings us suffering.
- The truth of the end of suffering: This noble teaching tells about the cure from suffering. Lord Buddha had taught that diligent practice was the only way to put an end to our thirst and withdrawing oneself from the rat race after satisfaction leads to the enlightenment of an individual.
- The truth of the path that free us from suffering: Here Lord Buddha had said the following the Eight-Fold Path diligently is the cure that will free us from all the sufferings in life.
- July Chokor is a relaxed and a colorful festival that takes place in Tibet and parts of Nepal in the middle of the summer season.
- The celebrations include people carrying copies of scriptures which are engraved on rectangular blocks made out of wood and statues of Lord Buddha all over the town with songs and music playing in the background.
- People are seen to be in a cheery and happy spirit as it marks the day on which Lord Buddha’s teachings were promulgated.
- The entire community takes part in this procession which is followed by a picnic.