Public invited to Buddha’s birthday service

The public is invited to the annual island-wide Hanamatsuri service hosted by the Kaua‘i Buddhist Council at 9:30 a.m. Sunday at the Soto Zen Temple in Hanapepe.

Hanamatsuri, or Buddha’s birthday, is the term referred to in Japan and celebrated each year on April 8 when people bring fresh flowers to the temples in remembrance.

A proclamation issued by Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. earlier states Siddhartha Gautama Buddha, founder of Buddhism, later became enlightened as Shakyamuni Buddha.

Gerald Hirata of the Soto Zen Temple said the birthday of the Buddha is celebrated on different dates by various schools of Buddhism.

In most of Eastern Asia, the birth is observed on the first full moon of the fourth month in the Chinese lunar calendar, typically May, Hirata said. In other parts of Asia, the day falls a month earlier or later.

“Whatever the date, the Buddha’s birthday is a time for joyous celebration, hanging lanterns, parades of musicians, dancers, floats and enjoying communal meals,” Hirata states in a news release. “In Nepal, the celebrations last a month.”

Various rites are observed during Buddha Day services and are based on events at the time of Prince Siddhartha’s birth in Lumbini Garden, located in India, and became the manifestation of Amida, the Buddha of Infinite Higher Wisdom and Compassion, the proclamation states.

Meditation is at the heart of the Buddhist way of life.

Buddhism is embraced world-wide, throughout  Hawai‘i and here on Kaua‘i, according to the proclamation announcing April 8 through April 14 as Hanamatsuri Week and Buddha Day Commemoration.

Hirata said that, immediately following the Hanamatsuri service, John Wehrheim will present a talk on “Buddhist Economics in Bhutan: The Wisdom of Sustainability from the last Himalayan Kingdom.”

Wehrheim, during his frequent trips to Bhutan as a hydropower consultant, photographer and filmmaker since 1991, will offer an insider’s look at a country which values “Gross National Happiness” over “Gross National Product,” Hirata states.

Photographs from Wehrheim’s book, “Bhutan: Hidden Lands of Happiness,” will be on display. For more information, call the Rev. Noriaki Fujimori at 338-1847 or Hirata at 245-2841.


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