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Hanamatsuri celebrates Buddha’s birth

HANAPEPE — Rev. Scott Dharma Mangus, the current reverend at Kaua‘i Soto Zenshuji Temple, said you are special because there is only one you.

Rev. Mangus likened that statement on Sunday to the first words uttered by the baby, who later became the Buddha, the founder of Buddhism. He made his remarks during the annual commemorative of Buddha’s birth hosted by the Kaua‘i Buddhist Council at Kaua‘i Soto Zen Temple.

Labeled “Hanamatsuri,” or flower festival, due to the many flowers in Lumbini Gardens in Nepal bursting into bloom when the baby was born, Mangus said.

More than a hundred people, many being members of Buddhist temples around the island, attended the annual event coordinated by the Kaua‘i Buddhist Council.

The misty if not windy rains that blanketed the Hanapepe temple was likened to the honeydew melon juice that was poured over the newborn infant by a nine-headed dragon.

In a simplified account of Siddhartha Gautama’s birth, members of the public were given the opportunity to pour sweet tea over the statue of the baby Buddha housed in a flower-laden temple called the hanamido. The ritual is called kambutsu or bathing the body of the Buddha. This is performed with the offering of incense, prayer, and flowers.

This was all explained by Rev. Kohtoku Hirao of Waimea Shingon Mission, who served as the Hanamatsuri chair to Emiko and her daughter Gabrielle Mangus, who were experiencing the Kaua‘i rendition of Hanamatsuri for the first time.

This description was also shared with former Kaua‘i residents returning back to the island for visiting from their mainland residences.

Rev. Takayuki Meguro, the resident minister for the Lahaina Hokoji Shingon Mission and the Kula Shofukuji Shingon Mission, delivered the Dharma message where he explained how the Buddhist concepts helped himself and many of his church’s members recover from the Maui wildfire that destroyed all three Buddhist temples in Lahaina.

The extreme losses that included losing several of the church members to the devastating fire was greatly eased, and hope was lit by the simple notes of encouragement and hope that accompanied donations that will go toward helping rebuild what was destroyed on Aug. 8, 2023.

The positivity of the celebration of Buddha’s birth on April 8, was reflected in the additional components of traditional Japanese dance, and a youthful taiko presentation by Tsunami Taiko, which served as a preview of the upcoming Kaua‘i Buddhist Council o-bon dances on June 7 and 8 at the Waimea Higashi Hongwanji.

Participating churches included the Kapa‘a Jodo Mission, the Kapa‘a Hongwanji Mission, the Kaua‘i Dharma Center, Lihu‘e Hongwanji Mission, the Koloa Jodo Mission, the West Kaua‘i Hongwanji Mission, the Kaua‘i Soto Zen Temple, the Waimea Shingon Mission and the Waimea Higashi Hongwanji.
Source: The Garden Island

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