HANAPEPE — Steven Saiki told his grandson, Cayden Woods, 4, to be good Sunday while he readied for the hanamatsuri service celebrating the birth of the Buddha.
Woods obediently clasped his hands behind his back to show he was in compliance with his grandfather’s wishes, but did not budge from his position of studying the statuette of the Buddha encased in a flower-laden hanamido at the West Kauai Hongwanji Mission, Hanapepe Temple.
The Kauai Buddhist Council, comprised of nine Buddhist temples on Kauai, hosted the annual service with about 150 people showing up for one of the benchmark events in the Buddhist calendar.
The Rev. Bert Sumikawa, the event’s guest speaker and the resident minister of the Moiliili Hongwanji in Honolulu, said it is not clear when hanamatsuri in its current form originated. But after researching, he believes the first hanamatsuri was celebrated by a couple of Buddhist students in Berlin, Germany, in the early 1900s.
Hanamatsuri, translated to mean flower festival, is held to commemorate the birth of Siddartha Gautama in Lumbini Garden on the eighth day of the fourth month. During the service, a flower shrine, or hanamido, is set up in front of the main altar as a symbol of Lumbini Garden.
A statuette of the infant Buddha, pointing his right hand toward the heavens and his left hand toward the earth, sits in a bowl of sweet tea. Celebrants offer flowers and pour sweet tea over the image in kambutsu, or the rite of bathing the body of the Buddha.
Buddhism, in general, is a way of finding peace within oneself. Buddhists aim to develop inner peace, kindness and wisdom through their daily practice and share their experience with others. Buddhists try not to harm others and to live peacefully and gently, working towards the ultimate goal of pure and lasting happiness for all living beings.
The Kauai Buddhist Council next hosts the 2017 bon dance season starting June 2-3 with the bon dance at the West Kauai Hongwanji, Hanapepe Temple. Dancing starts at 7:30 p.m. on both nights.
Bon dance practice has already started at the Kapaa Hongwanji Mission on Monday evenings from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the social hall. The West Kauai Hongwanji Mission will hold bon dance practice on Thursday evenings from 6 to 8 p.m. at the WKH Hanapepe Temple social hall.