Rissho Kosei-kai Members Celebrate Shakyamuni's Birthday
Rissho Kosei-kai celebrated the anniversary of the birth of Shakyamuni Buddha on April 8 at the Great Sacred Hall in the headquarters complex in Tokyo and at all Dharma centers across Japan.
The ceremony at the Great Sacred Hall, attended by some 4,200 members, opened with 16 young women in saris, representing all young women members, carrying offerings to the altar before the image of the Eternal Buddha Shakyamuni. After that, Rev. Yasutaka Watanabe, chair of the Board of Trustees, led the sutra recitation and read out a pledge of devotion to the Buddha composed by President Nichiko Niwano. He poured sweet hydrangea tea over an image of the infant Buddha, set in a small pagoda decorated with flowers on the hall's platform.
After that, a little boy and girl, representing all members' children aged five, recited words of praise for Shakyamuni Buddha, and Kosei Nursery School children performed a dance on the platform.
Then one member testified to the faith, and President Niwano poured sweet tea over the image of the infant Buddha and gave a Dharma talk. In discussing Shakyamuni's life, he said Shakyamuni's attainment of supreme enlightenment was a rebirth, and that the highest aim of any human being is supreme enlightenment. He stressed that every individual's life is as precious as Shakyamuni's and that everyone has the potential to understand and embrace the universal truths. In conclusion, he said people's efforts to realize that potential brings them closer to supreme enlightenment, and those efforts must include diligent practice of Shakyamuni's teachings.
After the ceremony, 101 children in traditional Japanese costume walked in procession from the Great Sacred Hall to the Precious Stupa of the One Vehicle, built in memory of Rissho Kosei-kai's founder, Rev. Nikkyo Niwano, and poured sweet tea over an image of the infant Buddha set in a small pagoda before the stupa.
On the same day Dharma centers across Japan commemorated the Buddha's birthday in various ways besides celebrations in their halls of worship, such as setting up small pagodas with an image of the infant Buddha in shopping centers and parks and inviting passersby to pour sweet hydrangea tea over the image in veneration.
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