Oeshiki-Ichijo Festival Promotes Unity among Members
The 2011 Oeshiki-Ichijo Festival was held October 2 at Rissho Kosei-kai headquarters and the neighboring area in Tokyo. Some 6,000 members in 41 contingents from across Japan and overseas took part in the One Vehicle Parade along the street leading from the organization's Former Headquarters to the parking lot before the Horin-kaku Guest Hall. Some 20,000 spectators lined the street and cheered the marchers. The festival was also webcast worldwide.
The Oeshiki-Ichijo Festival commemorates the anniversary of the death of the 13th-century Japanese Buddhist priest Nichiren, who dedicated his life to spreading the teachings of the Lotus Sutra. The event is a time for Rissho Kosei-kai members to honor his virtuous deeds as well as deepen their veneration for Rissho Kosei-kai's founder, Rev. Nikkyo Niwano, who devoted his life to the spiritual liberation of other people and social reform in the spirit of the One Vehicle as taught in the Lotus Sutra. Members rededicated themselves to bodhisattva practice in gratitude for the two teachers' compassion. At this year's commemoration, members prayed for the rapid recovery of Japan's Tohoku (northeastern) region, which was hit by a massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11.
During the opening ceremony in the Great Sacred Hall, President-designate Kosho Niwano led the sutra recitation in prayer for the event's success. In her subsequent speech of guidance, she encouraged the participants to enjoy the precious day, making it an occasion to reaffirm their mutual support.
The parade began in the afternoon, led by representative members from the headquarters and 22 Dharma centers in Tokyo carrying mandala banners. They were followed by 24 members of the Kamaishi Dharma Center in Iwate Prefecture, large areas of which were devastated in March. They held a banner with words of thanks for the support they had received from many people and declaring their determination to rebuild their community. Forty-one contingents marched after them carrying mando (portable lighted pagodas), twirling matoi (traditional Japanese firemen's standards), and playing musical instruments. The banners and floats of many contingents displayed words of encouragement for people in the disaster areas. The contingent from the Utsunomiya Dharma Center in Tochigi Prefecture marched with a 3.5 meter float featuring a yellow crucian carp, a local symbol of healing. They carried a banner saying, "Cheer Up Tohoku, Everyone Stays with You" calling for the early rebuilding of the devastated areas. One hundred twenty-one members of seven Dharma centers in Ibaraki Prefecture, which was also seriously affected by the earthquake, joined the parade. They vigorously twirled matoi for the spectators and carried a banner which said, "Dream, Hope, Gratitude. Stand Up Ibaraki!" expressing their determination to rebuild their communities. Some 150 members of the International Buddhist Congregation of Rissho Kosei-kai, from 15 countries, also joined in the procession. They drew spectators' attention with traditional dances in folk costumes of their respective countries.
The closing ceremony took place at 5:30 p.m. in the Great Sacred Hall. Representatives of the participants announced resolutions to rededicate themselves to the faith. Then everyone offered a prayer together, and President Nichiko Niwano delivered a Dharma talk. He said he was invigorated by the parade and expressed appreciation for the marchers' lively participation. Saying the best friends are those who stay close when people are in trouble and agony, he emphasized the importance of every member acting as a good friend to the disaster victims by giving them constant care and consideration.
In the parking lots of the headquarters complex, a number of booths and attractions for children were set up by members of various Dharma centers from many parts of Japan as well as nongovernmental organizations.
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