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Thousands of believers mark Buddha's birthday

The China Post--President Ma Ying-jeou, thousands of believers and many guests from abroad attended a celebration of the Buddha's birthday held in front of the Presidential Office by the Fo Guang Shan Monastery (佛光山寺) and the Buddha's Light International Association (BLIA, 國際佛光會) yesterday.

The event was held to celebrate the birthday of Prince Siddhartha, the founder of Buddhism and the Supreme Buddha in most Buddhist traditions. Since 1999, the Buddha's birthday has been a national holiday in Taiwan, which falls on the second Sunday in May and coincides with Mother's day.

The ceremony started with traditional dance in Dunhuang (敦煌) and Buddhist chants. A statue of the Buddha — accompanied by music — entered the venue and the ceremony started with the presentation of five offerings of flowers, fruits, incense, foods, and lamps to the Buddha.

Gratitude and Love

The president praised Buddhists in Taiwan for entering the earthly world and offering helps to those in need. Ma also complimented Buddhists for efficiently helping others without asking for anything in return. “Sometimes Buddhists can act more swiftly than the government,” according to Ma.

Ma further addressed that children should show love to their mothers, and give them the utmost respect, especially on this special day. He said that in about an hour after the ceremony he would do all the things he said to his mother.

Master Hsing Yun (星雲), a highly venerated Chinese Buddhist monk and the founder of the Fo Guang Shan Monastery and the BLIA, expressed his gratitude for the Buddha's coming to this mundane world and bringing Buddhism to the people. “As a humble monk, I can only admire the Buddha the way I admire my mother,” stated Hsing Yun.

Hsing Yun prayed to the Buddha for the prosperity of Buddhism, the health of all mothers, harmony of the society and peace of all participants.

Watanabe Yoshiyasu, mayor of Fujikawaguchiko, a town under the Fuji Mountain in Japan, came to the ceremony and thanked Taiwan and the BLIA for helping Japan to recover from the earthquake in 2011.

President of United African Congress Sidique Wai, citing the United Nations' resolution of World Interfaith Harmony Week, suggested that the R.O.C. government can initiate interfaith dialogue in Taiwan.

The event ended with the Buddha bathing ritual, a rite aiming to purify the body, heart and spirit of those who practice. The ritual began with the president and Hsing Yun, with thousands of believers following to purify themselves.

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High-ranking monks present five offerings to the Buddha in the celebration of Buddha's Birthday, with President Ma Ying-jeou, front right, second row, and Master Hsing Yun, right, second row, joining the event in Taipei, yesterday.

(CNA)

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