Tens of thousands of people, including various dignitaries from Africa, celebrated the birth of Buddha on April 8 at Sampozan Muryojuji Temple, the head temple of the Nenbutsushu Buddhist Sect of Japan, in Kato, Hyogo Prefecture.

For a global commemoration of Buddha’s birth, the date was designated as International Buddhist Day in December 2014 by supreme Buddhist leaders from 41 countries on five continents during the Sixth Buddhist Summit held at the same temple.

The occasion was also marked in 46 other countries, according to the organizer, Buddhist Summit, the World Buddhist Supreme Conference Headquarters.

In the morning, the Grand Buddhist Ceremony took place in the presence of Vice President of Uganda Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi; King of Uganda’s Kooki Kingdom Apollo Sansa Kabumbuli II; and King of the Tooro Kingdom in Uganda Oyo Nyimba Kabamba Iguru Rukidi IV. World Buddhist leaders, including those from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda, also attended.

Referring to the participation of African dignitaries, Buddhist Summit President Gabju Choijamts Demberel from Mongolia said at a press conference that the light of Buddhism has been kindled on the African continent.

Expressing his gratitude for the invitation to this year’s event, the Ugandan vice president noted at the press conference that he was very happy and surprised at the same time by the friendship extended to him from many people, including children and seniors.

“Uganda happily joins the rest of the world to celebrate the fifth international day commemorating the advent of Lord Buddha,” he said in his statement. “Today, we are gathered in one place as a multicultural and multi-ideological congregation for the same cause. This is testimony to the oneness of humanity, which we should, and must, preserve to promote and sustain all the time.”

President of the Uganda Buddhist Centre Bhikkhu Buddharakkhita told reporters that much work needs to be done. “Historically, Africa is lagging behind in terms of the teachings of the Buddha,” he noted at the press conference. “Buddhism needs support of all leaders.”

Vice President of the Buddhist Summit Shinkai Kori of Nenbutsushu said the summit continues its effort to spread the teachings of Buddhism that brings about peace and tranquility.

Around 107,000 people attended this year’s ceremony at the temple, the organizer of the event said. They included those from Thailand, Vietnam, India, the U.S., Canada, the Philippines, Australia, France and Germany.

A Chigo Oneri Kuyo procession was also held, in which 385 kindergarten-aged children 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.

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