Hanamatsuri 2003!

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 known as Nepal.

Specifically, the 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 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 start of the Service, the special Hanamatsuri altar, or "Hanamido," is placed in front of the main altar (in the background) and decorated with flowers.

At the start of the service, Lorena Arita and her kids Blaise and Diego, pour sweet tea over the statue of the Baby Buddha.

Even young Joy Ormseth, helped by mom Deanna, was able to participate!

One of the highlights of this year's service was members of the Dharma School playing various percussion instruments along with the chanting of the Tanbutsuge Sutra.

WCBT's Dharma Schoolers also presented a short skit on the life of Shakyamuni Buddha (aided by Mr. Tor Ormseth).The Dharma Schoolers emphasized how lucky we are to be able to listen to the Buddha's teaching today.