Each year, on the 5th day of the first month of the Tibetan calendar, as part of the New Year activities, H.E. Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche and his disciples perform a life release of multitudes of fish. Rinpoche and senior monks will travel to a river outside of the Kathmandu Valley, where they will meditate, perform rituals, say prayers, and release thousands of fish. The prayers they chant evoke Buddha Śākyamuni, Vajrasattva, Amitabha, Avalokiteśvara, and other deities and are intended to spread love and compassion.
By this practice, living beings that would otherwise be killed are saved and released with the hope that they will live out their natural life spans. Aspirations are also made that they may be freed from rebirth in the lower realms. Protecting lives in this way brings about good health, long life, peace, and happiness in this life and in lives to come for those who support the life release.
It is believed that by freeing a single living being, a single rebirth in the lower realms is purified. Even if the harmful action of killing in this world has been committed, the act of saving a single life can purify negative actions and obscurations. By saving multiple lives, the harmful actions and obscurations of ten thousand aeons are purified. If life is released on behalf of a being whose life is coming to an end, their life will be prolonged. At the same time, in the sutras of the Blessed One, it is said that killing a single liberated being is equal to killing one hundred humans and that such an action brings countless negative consequences.
This practice benefits the fish that are released, the practitioners who make the release possible, those for whom the release is dedicated, and anyone who rejoices in this auspicious activity.
May all the fish be reborn with human bodies and become serious practitioners; may they find a good teacher and connect with the teachings of the Buddha; may they put the teachings into practice in their lives; and may they attain realization. Rejoice!