Flowers celebrate Buddha’s birth

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Ministers of the Kauai Buddhist Council, from left the Rev. Leonard Abeshima, the Rev. Kohtoku Hirao, the Rev. Mieko Majima, Lama Tashi Dundrup, the Rev. Koen Kikuchi, the Rev. Kosen Ishikawa and the Rev. Arthur Kaufmann officiate the Buddha Day Service celebrating the birth of baby Buddha Sunday at the Lihue Hongwanji Mission.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Florence Toyofuku, 4, gets help from her grandmother, Isobel Storch, in performing kambutsu, or the rite of bathing the body of the Buddha in tea Sunday during the Buddha Day Celebration presented by the Kauai Buddhist Council at the Lihue Hongwanji Mission.

LIHUE — Birth days are universally celebrated by people, and on Sunday, more than a hundred members of the Kauai Buddhist Council collected at the Lihue Hongwanji Mission to celebrate the birth of Siddhartha Gautama more than 2,600 years ago.

“On this occasion, Buddha Day celebrating the birth of the baby Buddha, we are reminded of the preciousness of each individual life that is sustained by the infinite working of all others,” said Rev. Tomo Hojo. “With humility and gratitude in our hearts, may we rejoice in the birth of Siddhartha Gautama who later became the Buddha.”

During the service, the member churches offered flowers to represent the flowers blooming in Lumbini Garden in Nepal when Queen Maya of the Sakya clan gave birth while on her way home to her parents for the birth.

Florence Toyofuku, 4, had never been for a Buddha Day, or Hanamatsuri (because of the colorful floral offerings), services and with the help of her grandmother did the kambutsu ritual of bathing the statuette of the Buddha housed in the color-fully decorated hanamido. The bathing with sweet tea symbolizes the rain, that according to myth and folklore, fell from the heavens after being impressed with the words “In the heavens above, and on the Earth below, I alone am the World-Honored One. All that exists in the Three Worlds is suffering, but I will bring support” utttered by the infant.

Later in life, Gautama became discontented with the suffering in life and renounced his earthly material wealth. Following a period of meditation, he became Enlightened after sitting under a Bohdi Tree. The Enlightened One was the Buddha, the founder of one of the great religions in the world.

“Hanamatsuri is an opportunity to acknowledge our dedication to the principles of wisdom, compassion, and kindness,” said Rev. Kohtoku Hirao. “May we all realize the significance and purpose of his appearance in this world, so we may understand and believe in his teachings with deepest gratitude and take eternal refuge in the three Holy Treasures of Buddhism — Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. Using this Hanamatsuri Day service as the opportunity, we, as followers of the noble path and the same truth will work together in spreading the Buddha teaching towards building a society where we can all live a life of spiritual fulfillment and contribute toward realizing a perfect peace.”

The Kauai Buddhist Council will next present is summer calendar of bon dances that cirulate and rotate among the member temples. The bon season will be celebrated by the Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital bon dance, May 17 at the hospital’s courtyard to welcome the start of the season.

The first Kauai Buddhist Council bon dance will be hosted by the Kauai Soto Zen Temple, May 31 and June 1 in Hanapepe. Following the final Kauai Buddhist Council bon dance, July 26 and 27 at the Kapaa Hongwanji Mission, the Kauai Veterans Memorial Hospital will host the final bon dance as a fundraiser for the hospital’s auxiliary to supplement the needs for its kupuna population.


Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or


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