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Global ceremonies honor birth of Buddha

With Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni in attendance, the birth of Buddha was commemorated on April 8 at Sampozan Muryojuji Temple, the head temple of the Nenbutsushu Buddhist Sect of Japan, in Kato, Hyogo Prefecture.

Nearly four years ago, supreme Buddhist leaders from 41 countries spanning five continents gathered at the same temple during the Sixth Buddhist Summit and designated the date as International Buddhist Day in December 2014 for a global celebration of Buddha’s birth.

About 148,000 people attended this year’s ceremony held from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., according to the organizer of the event, Buddhist Summit, the World Buddhist Supreme Conference Headquarters. They included those from Vietnam, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Indonesia, China, Canada, Myanmar and Australia.

The occasion was also marked and celebrated in 46 countries, the organizer said.

From 9:30 a.m. at the Hyogo temple, the Grand Buddhist Ceremony took place with the participation of foreign dignitaries, including the Cambodian king.

Dignitaries from Cambodia taking part in the event included Princess Norodom Buppha Devi, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Royal Palace Kong Som Ol, High Privy Councillor of the King and Ambassador of Cambodia to China Khek Caimealy Sysoda.

In the morning, a Chigo Oneri Kuyo procession was also held, in which around 600 children aged from 4 to 6 marched on a path in the temple with their parents. Afterward, they poured sacred water onto a statue of the newborn Buddha in a Kanbutsu-shiki ritual.

In the afternoon, unveiling ceremonies were conducted for The Sattapanninguha Auditorium and The Royal Ceremonial Hall, both dedicated and erected in honor of the Cambodian king for his contribution to the propagation of Buddhism in the world.

Meanwhile, foreign dignitaries from 14 countries took part in the event at the Hyogo temple. They included Buddhist Summit President Gabju Choijamts Demberel from Mongolia and Buddhist Summit Secretary General Weragoda Sarada Nayaka Maha Thero from Singapore.

“We have been broadening our cooperation and bringing all Buddhists together at the international level,” the Buddhist Summit president noted at a press conference. “The World Buddhist Supreme Conference will continue to contribute to world peace, as well as to the unification of the world’s Buddhists in the future.”

The secretary general told reporters that thanks to the Buddhist Summit, Buddhists now have one platform, enabling them to better discuss the religion.

Chief High Priest of Nenbutsushu and Vice President of the Buddhist Summit Shinkai Kori stressed the summit continues to strive for bringing peace to the world, upholding the concept of solidarity and exchange.