Thousands celebrate Buddha Day, pledging peaceful coexistence

Venkat Raman
Auckland, April 12, 2021

Lord Buddha, the Deity at Fo Guang Shan, Buddhist Temple in East Auckland

The teaching of Gautama Buddha and the need for peaceful co-existence were emphasised at a special prayer meeting held at the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Temple in East Auckland yesterday (Sunday, April 11, 2021) as thousands gathered to mark His Birthday.

Although the actual Birthday of Lord Buddha is on May 19 this year (the date varies from year to year, from April to May) festivities are held a few weeks before and after throughout the world. At Fo Guang Shan, the event is celebrated as a Multicultural Festival.

Prayers and Speeches

Abbess Manshin led the prayers at the Main Hall of the Temple in the presence of Minister of Transport, Workplace Relations & Safety Michael Wood, Members of Parliament Christopher Luxon (Botany MP National), Dr Neru Leavasa (Labour Takanini) and Naisi Chen (Labour List, Botany), Deputy Police Commissioner Wallace Haumaha, Counties Manukau Police District Commander Jill Rogers, Inspector Rakesh Naidoo (National Advisor, New Zealand Police National Headquarters) and members of Catholic and Islamic faiths.

Several stalls displaying and selling a range of food, handicrafts and other items were a feature of the Festival that drew people from varied ethnic and cultural backgrounds.

Abbess Manshin with special guests at Buddha Day on April 11, 2021

Nation of Compassion

Abbess Manshin and her colleagues recited several verses from the ancient texts that carry Lord Buddha’s teachings and said that the world can became a better place if hatred is replaced by love and if harmony is replaced by racial conflict.

“The world is becoming a place where conflicts are on the rise and nations are fighting with each other for control. People are spreading hatred instead of peace. We should all learn from the life and works of Lord Buddha so that this world can become good,” she said.

“We sincerely wish that we are able to utilise the compassion of Buddha to dispel these pains and sorrows. We also hope that the intrinsic quality of love and peace in everyone will be released. With a heart filled with gratitude and appreciation, let us love each and every one on Earth and treasure our natural resources. With a heart filled with selflessness and equality, let us accept and care for those who are suffering,” she added.

Relevance of Lord Buddha

Mr Wood said that the teachings of Lord Buddha are more relevant today than ever before and praised the work of Abbess Manshin and others at the Buddhist Temple.

“Buddha and his followers have always focused on peace and we in New Zealand have proved that we believe in peace and goodwill. In the words of Buddha, the answer to all the violence and hatred lies in humanity,” he said.

Mr Wallace said that the Buddhist Faith and all other faiths promote the values of peace and harmony in a world in which there is too much conflict and violence. They promote compassion and kindness in a world where there is too much greed and selfishness, he said.

Thousands of people of varied ethnicities visited the Buddhist Temple in East Auckland on April 11, 2021 to mark the Buddha Day

Demonstration of unity

Ms Rogers said that the Buddhist Temple and the Buddha Day is a demonstration of various communities coming together.

“We should never lose sight of the simple teachings of Buddha of love towards all,” she said.

Abbess Manshin said that racial disharmony, hatred and violence are really difficult to reconcile with the wisdom of humankind.

Among the other speakers were Taipei Economic and Cultural Office Auckland Director General Jeff Liu, Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand (FIANZ) President Ibrar Sheikh, Buddha’s Light International Association (BLIA) Northland President Lintao Yu and representatives of other religions and faiths.

A Great Movement

Fo Guang Shan, which means, ‘Buddha’s Mountain of Light,’ is an international Chinese Buddhist Religious Movement based in the Republic of China (Taiwan). The Headquarters of the Movement based in Dashu District of Kaohsiung, is the largest Buddhist Monastery in that country. Fo Guang Shan is one of the largest charity organisations in Taiwan and the Order calls itself, ‘International Buddhist Progress Society.’

Established in 1967 by Hsing Yun, the Order promotes ‘Humanistic Buddhism.’

Hsing Yun’s stated position within Fo Guang Shan is that it is an ‘amalgam of all Eight Schools of Buddhism, including but not limited to Chan.’

Pictures by Fo Guang Shan Photographer Toney Su. The above story has been sponsored by

 

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