The Number 13 Not So Unlucky But Instead Holy and Auspicious

This is a repost from our article back in 2016 and part of the continued process of manually transferring all the remaining previous posts from our old web server onto this new one.  It’s only fitting that we repost this as it coincides with today being Friday the 13’th in North America. Although the article cites Buddha’s birthday on the date we posted back then, the story about the number 13 within the Tibetan culture is the game changer here. We hope you enjoy it.

Yesterday was the historical Shakyamuni Buddha’s birthday which fell upon on the 7’th Day of the 4’th Lunar month also corresponding to the Western Solar Gregorian Calendar of the 13’th of May, 2016 of this year. Buddha’s birth date varies from year to year in the Western Gregorian calendar, but usually falls in April or May. In leap years it may be celebrated in June. In many East Asian countries his birth is celebrated on the 7’th or 8’th day of the 4’th month in the Lunar calendar and for the corresponding Solar Gregorian calendar of this 2106 year, it falls on the 13’th of May.

The number 13 which is considered unlucky and usually avoided at all costs by many western nations and cultures but not so depending who you ask. After reading the article below, consider Buddha’s birth date this year like a lotus flower growing in mud causing what is typically unlucky to many in other parts of the world, to be transformed to an auspicious one and shining light, cutting through all ignorance for the rest of the world. Now that the day has passed, it wasn’t so bad after all was it? =)

Because it was an auspicious day, effects of all actions whether positive or negative are multiplied 100,000 (one hundred thousand) times!

The article below, further explains what is superstitious to some, is not so to Tibetans who are Vajrayāna Buddhists.

Numbers in Tibetan culture – lucky and unlucky numbers

In Tibetan culture, the odd numbers are always regarded as auspicious number by local Tibetans. “6” is also considered as a lucky number for it is the multiple of “3”. Tibetans would always deal with some important matters or travel to some place far from home on odd days.

We can also find interesting numbers in Tibetan culture from the drinking customs of Tibet. Tibetan people would always clink their glasses for three times, three glasses of wine should be drunk after each clinking. Hence, they would always drink 9 glasses of wine once a clinking is proposed and they hold 9 glasses of wine should be the basic respect between friends.

If you are planning to present some gifts to Tibetan people, the number of the gifts should be odd numbers and never be even numbers. During the celebration of Tibetan New Year, the lamas in the monasteries would present gift bags (filled with various dried fruits) for the living Buddhas and some eminent Buddhists in the monastery. The number of the gift bags would always be odd numbers and never be even numbers.

Local Tibetans would always connect the nice things with “3”, such as the 3 Buddhas, 3 monasteries, 3 tribes and 3 sages. They also use “3” to express auspicious or some other lucky symbols, especially in Tibetan Buddhism culture, a lot of nouns use “3”as their affix. For example, “3” was used to symbolize the sun, moon and star. In Tibetan Buddhism, the universe is divided into 3 parts, the sky, ground and underground. The 3 Buddhas of Longevity refers to Amitayus Buddha, Ushnisha Vijaya and White Tara.

The odd number “9” means everything for local Tibetans. “9 rivers” means the place of all the rivers collected together. “9 people” means all living creatures. “9 needs” means all the needs and “9 wishes” means all the wishes. In a word, “9” is always used to express “much” in Tibetan. Actually, the use of “9” in Tibetan is quite similar to the use of “9” among the ancient Han people. In ancient times, Han people would also use “9” to express the meaning of uncertain, much or endless.

There is another interesting thing about the Tibetan number culture. In the West, the number 13 is regarded as an unlucky number, but in Tibetan culture 13 is an auspicious number, a holy number. In the ancient Tibetan fairy tales, the heaven is composed of 13 layers. The 13th layer of the heaven is said to be the desireless pure land described by Master Tsongkhapa. Hence, “13” is really a sacred and lucky number in Tibet. Besides, the devout pilgrims would always make Kora around Mt. Kailash for 13 rounds so as to pray for happiness and clean the guilty.

According to King Gesar, the world’s longest epic, when Gesar was born he held 13 flowers in his hands, walked 13 steps and vowed to become a Buddha at 13. Indeed, when he was 13, he was victorious in a horse race, married and became king of the state of Ling. Also according to King Gesar, Gesar had 13 concubines and 13 Buddhist guardians, and in the state of Ling under his rule there were 13 snowy mountains, 13 mountain ridges, and 13 lakes.

Article cited and reproduced from:

Buddha’s Birthday reference:

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