Celebrations: Buddha birthday celebrated at temple's 10th anniversary

(caption for the above picture: Bathing the Buddha ceremony during the celebrations)

One of the most sacred Buddhist festivals in the world, celebrating the birth, along with commemorating the enlightenment and death of Lord Buddha, which falls on May 3, this year, was celebrated in Christchurch on April 22.  

 Celebrations at FGS Buddhist temple Christchurch's 10th anniversary and Buddha's birthday festival on April 22

The event was co-organised by the Buddha's Light International Association (BLIA) South Island NZ and Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Temple (FGSBT) South Island, which reopened its door late last year after four years of intensive earthquake repairs. It was also the temple's 10th year of establishment, causing the celebrations to be bigger than usual.     

Notably, BLIA was founded in 1992 by Grand Master Hsing Yun, who is also the founder of the Fo Guang Shan International Buddhist Order. Born in 1927 in Jiangsu in China, Yun moved to Taiwan during the Cultural Revolution where he started the Order, which promotes Humanistic Buddhism – whose ideals and main tenants were introduced to Christchurch during the weekend celebrations.

"...promoting humanistic Buddhism..."

“The best example of this is what we call Prayer of Many Faiths – in which representatives of Islam, Hinduism, Christianity and Buddhism recite prayers in praise of God almighty. Cultivating compassion, and actualizing altruism, joyfulness, and universality, are the fundamental concepts of Humanistic Buddhism, as propagated by Grand Master Hsing Yun,” noted FGSBT officials.

Apart from prayers, the celebrations also included tea meditation, multicultural performances, vegetarian stalls, baby blessing ceremony, sutra transcription, and bath the Buddha depiction.

Significance of bathing the Buddha

A very important ritual during Buddha Jayanti celebrations is bathing the Buddha. BLIA explains the significance behind the ritual as, “Just like how water is soft in nature, and can diffuse with anything and everything it comes into contact with – how wonderful it will be if we can adopt the characteristics of water, and present religion, culture and life as an interconnected entity. Thus, the significance of bathing the Buddha is profound. As one bathes the Buddha, the individual makes the following wishes: 'As I bathe the Buddha, may I be cleansed of greed, hatred and ignorance, may I maintain a pure mind, may society be purified of violence and fraud, and may all be beautified by all that is good'.”

 David Thew, a two-time world champion of Tai Chi for his age bracket, demonstrating his art during the celebrations at Fo Guang Shan Buddhist temple Christchurch's 10th anniversary and Buddha's birthday festival on April 22