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2007 Buddha's birthday celebration in Christchurch

Report from Buddha's Light International Association (South Island) New Zealand -- 29/05/2007

Buddha's Light International Association (South Island) New Zealand held a celebration of Buddha's birthday on 28 April in Christchurch's Cathedral Square.

Over 30 young volunteers arrived there at 4:30 am and set up all the stages and stalls in the rain. The offering team, about 160 people, also practised how to make the offering during the rain.

Ceremonies began at 10am with a traditional lion dance. After this the offering team started offering incense, flowers and lights and then the celebration started.

The abbot of the South Island Temple went up on to the stage with the official guests. Representatives of religious groups included Peter Beck who is Dean of the Christchurch Cathedral, Alfaqui Mr.Ibrahim Abdelhalim from the Christchurch Mosque, and Master Nan Fu from the South Island Temple. Representatives of secular groups included Garry Moore, Mayor of Christchurch, Tim Barnett a Member of Parliament from the Labour party, Pansy Wong a Member of Parliament from the National party, Karolin Potter the delegate from the New Zealand human rights community, Superintendent Sandra Manderson, District Commander of the Canterbury District Police, a member of Christchurch City Council and some delegates from other groups. Over 60 VIPs joined the celebration.

Special guests, from right Dean Peter Beck, Mayor Garry Moore
Photo source: Riccarton Temple
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Buddha's Light International Association, New Zealand South Island's Chairman Zheng Hai Wen gave an address thanking all the guests for their attendance, the volunteers for their work, and all the audience for their support.

Venerable Master Man Xin said that this celebration gives a chance to gather all different parties together. Furthermore, it's a good way to spread Buddha's spirit to every corner of the world. The spirit of Buddha is mercy, respect and tolerance. The design of the Temple in Riccarton is a mixture of local and traditional Buddhist culture and obtained a prize for good construction and has been welcomed by the community.

Dean Peter Beck said that it was a great pleasure to see celebrations by many religious and cultural groups held each year at Christchurch Cathedral.

After that a youth group gave three performances - Dun Huang Dancing, Gratitude Disui Zhinen Dancing and Xin Qing hand gesture.

Youth group are signing to communicate with deaf people
Photo source: Riccarton Temple
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A variety of professional groups gave fine performances to the celebration, such as the Caledonian Society Scottish pipe band and Chan's Martial Arts T'ai Ji Quan group.

At the same time Tan Wan traditional artist Chen Shan Shan taught the art of the Chinese traditional paper-cut and Chinese handcrafts which are popular with New Zealanders and people from other countries. Other audience members went to the vegetarian stalls and got their favourite vegetarian food. The culture of vegetarian diet spreads beyond China through the celebration of Buddha's birthday.

The ceremony acknowledging Buddha Light's young members becoming adults was held at the same time and about 40 young members were blessed by Master Man Xin in public.

Blessing young members
Photo source: Riccarton Temple
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This celebration of Buddha's birthday held in Christchurch was able to exhibit Buddhist practice and culture to the thousands who attended this party in spite of the cold and rainy weather.

Rain made photography difficult in 2007.Here are glimpses of the celebration taken by Wang Yu lian in 2006.

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