10th Year Anniversary of Buddha¡¯s Birthday Celebration
The ¡°10th Year Anniversary of Buddha¡¯s Birthday Celebration¡± was held at Fo Guang Shan North Island on the 8th and 9th of April. This event attracted over 8000 visitors to the temple.
*Celebrating the Buddha¡¯s Birthday through Multiculturalism
On 8th April a ¡°Baby¡¯s Blessing Ceremony¡± and ¡°Taking Refuge in the Triple and Observing the Five Precepts Ceremony¡± were held. Buddha¡¯s Birthday was indeed a good day to hold these sacred ceremonies, so all participating parents, children and new preceptees received a piece of light for their lives.
The day¡¯s festivities included a multicultural performance stage, a pavilion for bathing the Young Prince Siddhartha, vegetarian food stalls filled with delicious cuisines from many different regions, children¡¯s wonder land play areas, free diagnostic tents from both Eastern and Western doctors, arts and crafts culture stalls, and promotional stalls from social organisations. The police also supported the event by bringing along trailers to show case to the public what they do and to promote information on how to keep safe in the community. YAD members also took this opportunity to fund raise for funds to their future activities.
Nan Ping Dunhuang Dance Troupe from Taiwan performed their beautiful dances during the Buddha¡¯s Birthday¡¯s Official Blessing Ceremony and on the multicultural performance stage as an offering to the Triple Gem and the masses. There were three Tea Meditation Servers stationed along the cultural corridor to give visitors the chance to experience ¡°The Unified Flavour of both Tea and Ch¡¯an¡±. This attracted many locals to taste the tea and experience the Zen garden¡¯s tranquillity under the guidance of the Tea Meditation Servers; this was a moment for their body and mind to be at ease.
There was a ¡°Special Buddha¡¯s Birthday Exhibition¡± held at Fo Guang Yuan Art Gallery 1, attracting over 2000 visitors over the 2 days. This exhibition included displays showing the Eight Appearances Displayed by the Buddha to Obtain Enlightenment, a short film called ¡°The Buddha¡¯s Life¡±, a spot to give light offerings to Buddhism¡¯s Eight Major Sacred Sites, an exhibition of Seven Lotus Steps, learning about Three Good Deeds and Four Kinds of Giving, and writing multi-coloured wishing cards. All these interesting activities expressed the lively, open and joyful characteristics of Humanistic Buddhism.
*Official Buddha¡¯s Birthday Ceremony
On 9th April the official ceremony for Buddha¡¯s Birthday started with a procession including Prince Siddhartha¡¯s statue on a litter flanked by Buddhism and New Zealand flags and the accompaniment of Buddhist youths performing the lion dance. Then the presiding ceremonial ministers including Venerable Abbess Manshin and other Venerables were ushered into the Main Shrine by Stephen Yu, President of BLIA North Island, and Dolly Tsai, Head Advisor of BLIA New Zealand. This was followed by making offerings to the Buddha, chanting of Buddhist sutras, utterance of words of blessings, and further prayers offered by representatives of many different religions wishing for world peace.
President Yu spoke about Fo Guang Shan¡¯s value of ¡°Joy¡±, as everything the temple does is based on the wish to bring joy to all and to do everything to benefit society. Stephen also thanked Venerable Master Hsing Yun for his compassionate and kind vows, all the Venerables for their tireless guidance and propagation work, all the help provided by the special guests, and all the BLIA members for their diligent support toward enabling Humanistic Buddhism to take root in New Zealand. This was followed by a speech from Head Advisor Tsai to recount all the accomplishment of Fo Guang Shan New Zealand including providing a multicultural platform, disaster relief in Christchurch, praying for world peace, promoting 3G4G Festival of Culture Sharing, promoting the book ¡°366 with wisdom¡±, and many other local culture and education activities.
*Special Guests at the Celebration
Special guests at the ceremony included: Auckland Mayor Phil Goff, Botany Local MP Jami-Lee Ross, Police Superintendent John Tims, Human Right Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy, Head of Taipei Economic and Culture Office Dr Zhong Xing, Police Superintendent Karyn Malthus, National Party MP Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, Police Inspector and special Advisor to the Human Right Commission Rakesh Naidoo, Chairperson of New Zealand Football Association Andy Martin, Director of Chinese Airline New Zealand Division Mr Xinlang Lin, and representatives of the police force, Chinese community and business community.
During their speech, Mayor Phil Goff expressed that even though the world is currently full suffering, war and many uncertainties, but at this very moment the joy and harmony of Buddha¡¯s Birthday Celebration showed the importance of peace. Not only is Fo Guang Shan a wonderful place of visit, it is also a place of education for diversity and purification of society.
MP Jami-Lee-Ross spoke about Fo Guang Shan¡¯s important role of providing service and benefit to the community for over 10 years.
Manukau Police Superintendent John Tims talked about the close cooperation between the temple and the police, and reiterated that the two organisations are united in ideals on that the police are responsible for public safety and Fo Guang Shan seeks to instil values and harmony to society.
Head of Taipei Economics and Culture Office Dr Zhong Xing recounted the day in 1967 when Venerable Master Hsing Yun established the first Fo Guang Shan, and then finally a branch was also installed in New Zealand. Under the leadership of Venerable Abbess and BLIA, Humanistic Buddhism was finally localised in this land through education, art, charity and culture. This has greatly benefitted society through spiritual development.
Human Right Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy quoted that: ¡°On behalf of the Human Right Commission, I would like to thank Fo Guang Shan New Zealand and its team¡¯s services and contributions.¡± Along with all the other religious representatives here, not only is peace wished for New Zealand but will be prayed for the whole world. She felt that every event organised by Fo Guang Shan can improve ethnic harmony and peace in society. So it sets a good role model that can make New Zealand into a suitable home for people of any ethnicity.
Finally the Abbess spoke that it is the causes and conditions from the ten directions that sustained the temple for ten years, and enabling the beautification of so many minds and hearts. Humanistic Buddhism¡¯s ideal of Three Good Deeds and Four Kinds of Giving is promoted in hope of improving everyone¡¯s quality of life. Hence she wishes that everyone can follow the footsteps of Venerable Master Hsing Yun to accomplish more in the next ten years.