Indonesian Buddhist Youth Association releases thousands of endangered animals into mangrove park

- through Henry Oudin

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All images courtesy of YBAI

Working in collaboration with eco-activism foundation Ecoton, the Young Buddhist Association of Indonesia (YBAI) recently conducted a large-scale life liberation operation to release thousands of aquatic animals in the Botanical Garden of mangroves of Gunung Anyar, East Java.

One of the organizers of the December 9 release of life by the Indonesian Buddhist Youth Association, Herman Pranata, explained that among the thousands of animals released were catfish, eels, monitor lizards and crabs, purchased from various suppliers in supermarkets, markets and restaurants in Surabaya seaport and surrounding areas.

“This was done to help maintain biological ecosystems, especially in the largest mangrove area on the island of Java, and also to preserve Buddhist heritage. Fangsheng (Ch. 放生) tradition,” YBAI shared with BDG. “We have collaborated with a number of organizations, ranging from the Gusdurian, Samanera and Atthasilani network of Padepokan Dhammadipa Arama Batu, students of Buddhist spiritual activity units from various universities in Surabaya, students of religious studies and monks from various monasteries in Surabaya. »

The Young Buddhist Association (YBA) is the leading Buddhist youth organization in Indonesia. Through a deep belief in the Buddha's message of compassion, growth and liberation, the association promotes a positive lifestyle among young people in order to cultivate a society based on wisdom, compassion and gratitude. The association is involved in the creation of nationwide Buddhist organizations, the propagation of Dharma study among young people, and leadership training.

“Donations from 162 donors totaled: 96 kilograms of crabs; 86 kilograms of monitor lizards; 5 kilograms of Bivalvia molluscs; 470 kilograms of eels; 35 kilograms of cork fish; 27,5 kilograms of catfish; and two Asian soft-shelled turtles,” Pranata explained. “During the release, we joined Bhante Jayamedho Thera and Lama Kunzang to pray together, so that all the animals would be blessed as they were matched with participants who had the noble intention of releasing them into an ecosystem adapted and validated by Ecoton . .”

Pranata said the aim was to return fish that were allegedly killed and consumed to their original habitat, thereby alleviating their suffering. The hope is that these fish will continue to live, reproduce and provide many benefits to nature, he added.

“This activity is a Buddhist ritual known as Fangshengby releasing captive animals into the wild that need to be killed so that we as humans are spared from danger and given the kindness to help the suffering creatures,” he said.

Pranata emphasized that he invited various non-Buddhist groups to participate in Buddhist practice in order to establish friendship between religious communities in a common activity that would benefit all.

Meanwhile, YBAI religious patron YM Bhikkhu Jayamedho Thera observed that the act of liberation of life was a symbol of love ahead of the coming new year. He also called on the participants to reflect on the virtuous and good deeds that were performed, especially towards themselves, and to ask themselves if they were able to get rid of all anger, greed, malice, noting that this was Most importantly: “Letting go with animals is easy, if you have the money and the intention, you can do it. But letting go of hatred, malice and envy is much more difficult, so this Fangsheng has physical and spiritual meanings – and the two must be balanced.

He also highlighted the merit associated with the act of liberating life: “Continue doing good things so that next year we can face a year full of hope and full of challenges and perseverance so that we can gain happiness, peace and prosperity.

Head of the Surabaya Food Safety and Agriculture Department Antiek Sugiharti expressed gratitude to the organizers for taking measures to protect the environment and local ecosystems in an atmosphere of interfaith tolerance.

“This is an extraordinary collaboration for us in releasing fish and other animals to provide them with opportunities for survival,” she said. “I hope that the environment of Surabaya will benefit from this and that in this way we can all be healthy, protected by God, and that we will always be a better and bigger family in the future. »

Although officially a secular state, Indonesia is home to a diversity of religious and spiritual communities and traditions. Islam is the most widespread religion, observed by 87 percent of the population, according to 2022 national data. Christian traditions make up a total of 10,5 percent, Hinduism 1,7 percent, and the Confucianism, folklore and other traditions make up a combined total. 0,07 percent.

Buddhism, practiced by 0,73% of the population, or approximately two million people, is Indonesia's second oldest spiritual tradition after Hinduism. According to historical accounts, Buddhism first flourished on the archipelago around the XNUMXth century, followed by the rise and decline of a number of powerful Buddhist empires, including the Shailendra dynasty (around the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries). centuries), the Srivijaya empire (c. XNUMXth-XNUMXth centuries) and the Mataram empire (c. XNUMXth-XNUMXth centuries). Today, the majority of Indonesian Buddhists are affiliated with Mahayana schools of Buddhism, although there are also communities of Theravada and Vajrayana practitioners.

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Henry Oudin

Henry Oudin is a Buddhist scholar, spiritual adventurer and journalist. He is a passionate seeker of the depths of Buddhist wisdom, and travels regularly to learn more about Buddhism and spiritual cultures. By sharing his knowledge and life experiences on Buddhist News, Henry hopes to inspire others to embrace more spiritual and mindful ways of living.

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