Hanamatsuri is the happiest occasion for all Buddhists in the world, as it is the celebration of the birth of Shakyamuni Buddha. Buddha was born in Lumbini Garden, which is located in the southern part of Nepal, on April 8, 563 BC.

Hanamatsuri, or Flower Festival, is a service of rejoicing in which we commemorate the birth of Shakyamuni Buddha. We decorate beautiful flowers on the little pavilion, known as a Hanami-do, setup representing Lumbini Garden, where Buddha was born. In the Hanami-do, or Flower pavilion, stands a baby Buddha and we pour sweet tea over him. This is because when baby Buddha was born, sweet rain fell from the sky to bathe the body of the baby Buddha. Flowers bloomed everywhere, thousands of flower petals fell from the sky, and sweet music could be heard. It seems even Mother Nature celebrated Buddha’s birth.

According to the legend, as the time of Prince Siddhartha’s birth neared, Queen Maya prepared to make the journey to the home of her mother, where she would have the child in accordance with the custom of the time. While on her journey, she stopped to rest at a garden called Lumbini. Marveling at the beauty of the garden, Queen Maya raised her right hand to grasp the flowers of the Asoka tree. At that moment, the Buddha was born from Queen Maya’s right armpit.

Right after Buddha was born, he took seven steps, pointed his right hand to the sky and left hand to the earth, and said the following words:

“Above and below the heavens, I alone am the World-Honored One.”

Wow, if the newborn baby did this type of action, it truly is a miracle! This expressed how important his teachings would become as he shared his knowledge with numerous people. I think the meaning of this expression was that,

“He is the only one able to save all human beings and He is the only one enlightened in the world of samsara. He is the one who will save all human beings from a life of suffering.” King Sudodhana, the baby’s (Buddha) father was so happy that he named the child “Siddhartha,” which means “Every wish fulfilled.”

Today, we offer sweet tea as the rain that bathed the Buddha when he was born. All the flowers that decorate the pavilion are like those that bloomed in Lumbini Garden when he was born. This celebration, including the rituals, expresses our sincere gratitude to the Buddha for the great guidance and courage we receive through his teachings.

Each one of us has a great Buddha nature, and it manifests peace, serenity, sympathy, joy, and happiness in our lives. For us to realize these very important things, the one and only way is to listen to the teachings of the Dharma without any doubt and rely upon Buddha’s wisdom and compassionate heart. Buddha’s teaching provides us with guidance and the path to the Truth in our lives.

On this special day, may we all rejoice in the spiritual guidance provided by the Buddha and pass it on to future generations. This fresh air, this gathering, listening to the Dharma, and whatever we have in our lives are all precious gifts given by our great Master, Buddha Shakyamuni.

On this Hanamatsuri Flower Festival, may we express our heartfelt gratitude and joy and also extend our sincere appreciation and gratitude to our fellow friends.

Hanamatsuri expresses the great joy and happiness of the Buddhist Community and we can share this truth and happiness with our Aloha Ohana.

May we all extend our happiness and joy to our friends and share our Dharma-enriched Nembutsu life.

To close, I would like to share with you the following poem: Shakyamuni and Amida are our father and mother Full of love and compassion for us, Guiding us through various skillful means, They bring us to awaken the supreme Shinjin

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