The public is invited to celebrate Buddha’s birthday at the Hawai‘i Buddhist Council’s annual Hanamatsuri (Buddha Day) service. University of Hawai‘i at Mänoa emeritus professor of religion Dr. George Tanabe will be the guest speaker at the service, which will be held Sunday, April 2, at Jodo Mission of Hawaii (1429 Makiki St.).

Hanamatsuri celebrates the birth of Shakyamuni Buddha, who was born in India on the eighth day of the fourth month and given the name Siddhartha. Legend has it that at the time of his birth in the Lumina Garden, sweet rain came down from the heavens to wash the baby Buddha and that all of the flowers in the yard bloomed fully. That is why Buddha’s birthday is also referred to as Hanamatsuri, or the “Flower Festival.”

Buddha’s birth is celebrated at Buddhist temples worldwide on April 8. Small shrines decorated with flowers are set in front of the sanctuary with a tanjobustu (baby Buddha figurine) placed inside. During the service, worshippers use a ladle to “bathe” the figurine with ama-cha, a beverage made by soaking tea leaves or flowers in hot water.

The flower shrine represents the Lumina Garden where the Buddha was born and the sweet tea symbolizes the sweet rain that fell during his birth.

A food drive will be held in conjunction with the Hawaii Buddhist Council Buddha Day service. Attendees are asked to bring nonperishable food items such as canned goods, rice, spaghetti ingredients, pasta and other cooking ingredients, which will be donated to people in need.

Light refreshments will be served after the service. For more information, call 949-3995.


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