Hanamatsuri 2001!

West Covina Buddhist Temple Celebrates Buddha's Birthday
"Hana" means "flower" in Japanese, and "matsuri" means "festival," so Hanamatsuri means "flower festival." It is an annual celebration of the birthday of the Buddha, who was born approximately 2500 years ago in the area now know as Nepal.

Specifically, the abundance of flowers symbolize "Lumbini Garden," the actual site of the Buddha's birth to Queen Maya and King Suddhodhana. The sweet tea that is poured over the statue of the Baby Buddha symbolizes the "sweet rain" that is said to have come down from the heavens when the Buddha was born.

At his birth, the Baby Buddha is said to have taken seven steps and declared, "Above the heavens and below the heavens, I alone am most noble." This statement expresses the essence of Buddhism. In his "What is Hongan" essay, which is in our Library, Dr. Nobuo Haneda explains:

"When Shakyamuni said 'above the heavens and below the heavens' he was talking about the two types of gods that the people of his time believed in. When he said 'above the heavens' he was talking about heavenly gods. When he said 'below the heavens' he was talking about earthly gods. Saying 'Above the heavens and below the heavens,' he was indicating that he does not need any gods, any external divine saviors. When he said 'I alone am most noble' he was talking about the 'Basic Desire' in his being."

Dr. Haneda clarifies that this basic desire, known as Hongan in Shin Buddhism, is "the most basic and fundamental human desire, the oldest and earliest human desire. It is the desire that differentiates human beings from other animals. It is the aspiration to be a Buddha (a real human being) - to live the most meaningful and fulfilling life as a human being. It is extremely important to know that "Basic Desire" does not belong to some specific individuals; it belongs to all human beings."

"When Buddha was born, he said that his 'Basic Desire' was most noble. This is the tradition of Shakyamuni Buddha."

Before the Service, WCBT's Pat Sato, Nancy Leong, Mitsue Oshita, Claudia Haraguchi and Emi Wexler pose with the lovely Hanamido (special altar) they decorated. Note the beautiful Wisteria from Mary Hatakeyama's garden.

WCBT had a very good turnout to the 2001 Hanamatsuri. On hand were 15 or so folks from the Southbay Bahai Community, who visited after seeing this website.

Special speaker for the event was the Rev. Masashi Nagatani, a Higashi Honganji minister in the U.S. to pursue religious studies this fall at Boston University

In the entertainment portion, the Dharma School kids put on a cute presentation of the Buddha's birrth in Lumbini's Garden some 2500 years ago.

Everyone was treated to a fantastic concert by WCBT's teen "Lotus Band," consisting of (l-r) Brandon Leong, Kevin Hata, Lindsay Ogino, Kiyoshi Earley, Allison Haraguchi, Amy Sakaue and Kyle Kagawa. Lotus played some traditional Buddhist songs and deftly blended in Green Day's "Time of Your Life," Disney's "Colors of the Wind," Metallica's "One," and N'Sync's "This I Promise You."