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May 29, 2017

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Buddha's birthday, Mother's Day celebrated

By Grace Soong

Tens of thousands of believers gathered to celebrate Buddha's birthday, also officially known as Veska Day, along with Mother's Day and the 100th anniversary of the Republic of China on Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office, yesterday.

Guests from around the globe and mothers from all over Taiwan congregated and "bathed the Buddha" in hopes of bringing peace and prosperity to Taiwan and the world through this spiritual gathering.

For the third consecutive year, the celebration of Buddha's birthday took place on Ketagalan Boulevard on Mother's Day. The event was arranged by the Executive Yuan's Council for Cultural Affairs and hosted by Fo Guang Shan (FGS, 佛光山) and the Buddha's Light International Association (BLIA, 國際佛光會). According to the BLIA, over 100,000 attended the event.

Vice President Vincent Siew encouraged the people of Taiwan by discussing Venerable Master Hsing Yun's philosophy of "three goods and five ways to be at peace" (三好五和), saying that doing good things, saying good words, and thinking good thoughts will bring peace within oneself and society. Buddha's teachings are long lasting, just like a mothers' love, Siew said, while wishing for long life for democracy and freedom of religion.

President Ma Ying-jeou, who was not present at the event, called and expressed his blessings for mothers and the spreading of Buddha's creeds to the crowd through a speakerphone.

The event was attended not only by politicians but also ambassadors and officials from Nicaragua, Swaziland, Nauru, St. Christopher, the Philippines, Mexico and various other nations.

Jeffery Huffines, Chair of the NGO / DPI Executive Committee & U.N. Representative for CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, commended the BLIA, which was acknowledged by the U.N. as an NGO in 2003. He also commended its founder Venerable Master Hsing Yun for promoting humanitarian relief efforts.

Huffines encouraged the creation of "a world in which material and scientific development is governed by ethical and spiritual principles that promote the prosperity of people everywhere." He also commented that Buddha's spirit of compassion and Buddha's timeless teachings could navigate many global problems and serve as a platform, just like the U.N., for global coordination in this materialistic world.

Former Head of the Yamanashi prefecture parliament Fukazawa Toshio also attended the Veska Day event. He brought along a letter from the president of the Japanese Liberal Democratic Party, Tanigaki Sadakazu, who expressed his gratitude to the Taiwanese public for all their financial and spiritual support following the March 11 Japan earthquake.

"Bathing the Buddha" is a traditional Buddhism practice for Veska Day, where believers scoop up water and pour it over the shoulders of a small-scale Buddha. Venerable Master Hsing Yun said that bathing the Buddha is not just to show respect for the spiritual leader — the source of Buddhist teachings, but also to cleanse the impurities within our minds. To pay tribute to Buddha and mothers for the love and warmth they have brought this world, Hisng Yun said, is the reason Veska Day is celebrated. "May Buddha bless you all," he said.

Despite the heat, followers of Buddha, including mothers who were over 100 years of age, waited patiently in line for their turn to bathe the Buddha at the end of the ceremony.

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