Name of Festival: Tykhe Hariti Festival (it has many other names as well depending on who Hariti was equated or syncretized into). There
is a Kishimonjin festival; Karetei-Mo festival; Zhangxian watcher of children festival (Kishimonjin syncretized into Zhangxian); Kuan Yin the Protectress of Children/Giver of Many Children Festival (Kishimonjin as an aspect of Kuan Yin ); Koyasu-sama (Hariti syncretized into Koyasu)/Koyasu-Kannon (another aspect of Kuan Yin ) festival; in Nepal there is a Hariti and Maha-Hariti festival as well.
When to Celebrate: Really dependent upon location. My temple celebrates it on the full moon of the third lunar month from the lunar New Year ( Chinese Lunar New Year ).
What the celebration is about: To celebrate Tykhe Hariti’s redemption from the path of wickedness. It is also the day we celebrate her vow to become a Buddhist and embrace Good. It is also the day we remember her in her role as giver of good fortune and of good things as well as protection to the followers of Buddhism. It is also the day we celebrate her as protector of children and guardian of mothers.
We also celebrate her vow to protect people who uphold the name of the Law-Flower as expounded in the Lotus Sutra.
What is needed to celebrate: Varies from location to location, but usually if possible people would try to offer pomegranate ( if your area of the globe has pomegranate ). The reason why the festival varies from location to location probably has more to do with pomegranate availability. If not food is a good substitute.
In the case of Greco-Buddhist celebration frankincense should probably be offered as well.
You should get either a copy of the Samyuktavastu, the Hariti sutra, or the relevant chapter of the Lotus sutra which contains the protective dharani of Hariti to recite or the relevant chapter of the Maha Maya sutra.
Now remember being a Buddhist festival as well what is needed is not merely preparatory needs, but also the spirit of the festivity as well. This in the Greco-Buddhist aspect is more important than the timing of the festivity or the ritual of the festival itself.
On this day we need to remember those less fortunate than us and take some efforts to help them out. In the case of Tykhe Hariti we should especially remember families and children less fortunate than us and seek to help them out. Humans after all can also provide good fortune to other humans.
However we should also remember that Tykhe Hariti is the patron of children so this is in a sense of a children’s day as well. We should celebrate our children on this day.
How to celebrate: At your altar of Tykhe Hariti ( or you could join your local temple that does celebrate a Hariti festival, noting of course most Hariti festival are utterly syncretized with the local deities, so a Kuan Yin festival to children is very likely a Hariti festival ) first light two candles. Offer the first to Hestia and the second to the Buddha.
My Greco-Buddhist prayer goes, “Oh to you Hestia, daughter of Kronos and Rhea, to you Zeus Indra grants the honor to receive the first of all offerings. Oh sister to Zeus Indra, may this offering of candle be worthy to you, thank you.”
Then as I light the second candle I say, “As the light from this candle banishes the darkness around it, so do I adore the Enlightened One whose wisdom banishes the darkness of ignorance.”
Then recite the Tri-Sarana, taking refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.
With this done, we now light the incense to Tykhe Hariti and with your palms pointed skywards ( or facing the statue ) say, “Oh Tykhe Hariti, hail to you Goddess of Fortune and of good things, and hail also to you protector of children and of families. Hail to you who watches over Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha, with this perfumed incense, I honor the Redeemed One, most worthy of respect and honor.”
Then recite the Samyuktavastu or the Hariti sutra (or other relevant sutras though this two tend to culminate in the reason why one offers pomegranate).
Then after this is finished say, “Oh Hariti, please accept this offering of pomegranate, may this offering be worthy to you.”
(Note as per Mahayana tradition food is not to be wasted .. so this fruit should ideally be given to your neighbor or to your friends or to people who join the ceremony or to people in need of food a few hours later. Noting in most temples the monks distribute the food which means that even the donor can then eat portion of the food he offered as it has been redistributed. Most Mahayana are loath to eat what they have offered but there is nothing against giving it to someone else to eat.)
(You can also give a bottle of promeganate juice then donate the juice, noting that libation of water whilst common in Buddhism is about the only thing libated excepting medicinal water and tea).
Then for the remainder of the day one should do either charitable deeds or celebrate the day with ones children. This is in fact more important than the actual festivity itself.
Relevant charitable deeds are donating money to organization for children or for family. Orphanages are now very rare in the First World but if there is one then one should visit the orphanage, preferably bringing joy and happiness into the life of children. Remember that Tykhe Hariti is a goddess who loves children and is ever watchful over their welfare.
Tykhe Hariti is also goddess of fortune which also make her Goddess who watches over the unfortunate. Bring some fortune into the life of those whose life is in the dumps. Donate money to the unfortunate. Chat to those whose life is at its very bottom. Offer services to the needy. See a friend who has isolated himself or herself from society owing to some misfortune and provide them hope in the darkness. Fortune can come in the form of a human and oftentime we can make our own and other people’s fortune.
Alternatively if one has children celebrate them. Today is their day. Play with them, bring them on an outing. Cherish ones children.
May the blessings of Tykhe Hariti be upon all.