Bishop Chishin Hirai
(Reprinted from March 28, 2018)
Buddha Day celebrates the birth of the Buddha, Siddhärtha Gautama — the founder of Buddhism. It is said that Siddhartha Gautama was born on April 8 about 2,500 years ago in a place called the Lumbini Garden in India. Upon his birth, beautiful flowers blossomed all around him.
During our Hanamatsuri celebration, a baby Buddha statue in a small shrine will be decorated with a floral display to symbolize where he was born. We will pour sweet tea over the statue in the flower shrine, as it is said that sweet nectar rained on Siddhartha during his birth.
As a young adult, Siddhärtha devoted himself to overcoming the sufferings of birth, aging, sickness and death, finally attaining enlightenment and becoming the Buddha.
Buddhism shares the teaching of the Buddha in order to help one become a Buddha. The teachings help us to free ourselves from suffering and to attain awakening. We can become exactly like the Buddha.
Today, the teachings of the Buddha are preserved as sutras, or chants. The Buddha leads us through the sutras even now. Therefore, we celebrate Buddha’s birthday with great joy and express our deep gratitude on this auspicious occasion.
Bishop Chishin Hirai is the head minister of the Nichiren Mission of Hawaii.