The Hawaii Buddhist Council (HBC) hosted Buddha Day celebrations at the Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii Betsuin in Honolulu on April 2. Also known as Hanamatsuri in Japanese, Buddha's Day is when Buddhists around the world come together to celebrate the birth of the historic Buddha.
Traditionally, the celebration takes place during the week before or after April 8 and often includes chanting, meditation, reaffirmation of vows and bathing of Buddha statues.
Reverend Sol Kalu, Associate Minister of Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii Betsuin, described the holiday: "This day, apart from being a day of joyous celebration, is also the day when Buddhists stop and reflect on what religion or belief system symbolizes as well as its role in people's lives. » (The Hawaii'i Herald)
The Hawaii Buddhist Council is made up of representatives from seven Buddhist denominations. Every year, the council holds Hanamatsuri services at the temple of one of its members. This year's celebrations included a talk by Dr. George Tanabe titled “Why We Tell Stories,” as well as performances by Jeff Gere, a professional storyteller, and professional violinist Lesley Kline.
During the feature, Jeff Gere gave an interpretation of the Tales of Jataka, entertaining audiences with stories in which Buddha appears as an animal and learns various life lessons through his adventures. Lesley Kline played the violin during the show to add musical textures to each story.
Rev. Kalu described the importance of Tales of Jataka"Some of the past lives (of the Buddha) were in the form of animals and this is where the compilation of Tales of Jataka, stories of the Buddha's life as animals, which have moral lessons and are usually taught to children, have evolved. (The Hawaii'i Herald)
The Reverend went on to say, "The important thing to learn is that in the entire cycle of rebirth of Buddha Shakyamuni, it was only in human form that he attained enlightenment or nirvana, not in the five other kingdoms of the suffering world. » (The Hawaii'i Herald)
Reverend Kalu grew up in the Philippines. He encountered the teachings of Jodo Shinshu on a trip to Kyoto and was inspired to become a Buddhist minister. He received the Tokudo ordination in 2007 and the Kyoshi ordination in 2010. He has been an associate minister of Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii Betsuin since 2017.
Dr. George Tanabe lives in Waialua, Hawai'i. He holds a bachelor's degree from Willamette University, a master's degree in theology from Union Theological Seminary, and a master of arts and doctorate from Columbia University. He is president of Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai (BDK) Hawai'i and BDK America (Berkeley).
Jeff Gere performs and tells stories to audiences around the world. He produced Talk Story Festival, a celebration of storytelling in Hawai'i, for 27 years.
Lesley Kline lived in Paris before moving to Oahu. She plays the violin in establishments all over Hawai'i.
The Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii Betsuin is a Jodo Shinshu temple located in Honolulu, Hawaii. It has strong ties to the main Nishi Hongwanji temple in Kyoto and is part of the larger Hawaii Kyodan, which is made up of 34 Buddhist temples.
The mission statement of Honpa Hongwanji is as follows: “The mission of Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii is to share the living teachings of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism so that all beings can live a life of harmony, peace and gratitude. (Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii Betsuin)
The temple offers a variety of services to its devotees, including Sunday services in English and Japanese, from kindergarten through eighth grade through Hongwanji Mission School, an accredited college-preparatory high school through Pacific Buddhist Academy. (PBA), and various cultural organizations and activities.