(Buddha’s Day) & Buddha’s Birthday is celebrated on varying dates by region this month of May by Buddhists throughout Asia! Here’s a Kapampángan word that is possibly connected to its Sinhala name and is the tree of enlightenment of two past Buddhas!
MITLÂ • (mit-LA’)
Queen’s crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia speciosa), a medicinal plant growing as a tree with bright pink or purple flowers
Tagálog (Filipino): banabá
Sinhala මුරුත (muruta) “Queen’s crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia speciosa)”
The Queen’s crape myrtle (Tagálog (Filipino): banabá, Kapampángan: mitlâ) is a well-known medicinal plant in the Philippines. It blooms bright pink or purple flowers during the Philippine summer months (March-May). The barangay (village) of Mitla Proper in the Kapampángan town of Porac is named after it.
The plant’s Kapampángan name (mitlâ) is possibly cognate to its Sinhala name (muruta) through an unknown Indic source, and also possibly cognate to English myrtle which ultimately originates from an unknown West/South Asian source (compare Persian murd, from Middle Persian mwlt’ /mōrd/).
In Buddhism, the muruta / mitlâ / banabá is said to be the tree of enlightenment of the eleventh Buddha (Paduma) and the twelfth Buddha (Naarada).
Similar Traditions of Different Cultures:
During Vesak (Buddha’s Day) in the Buddhist-majority nation of Sri Lanka, electrically-lit colorful structures called thoranas and colorful lanterns serve as decorations signifying the light of the Buddha.
During Christmas, the Kapampángans of the Philippines are well known for their illuminated giant parul or Christmas lanterns which signify the Star of Bethlehem that guided the Three Kings to Jesus’ birth.