Messages of peace and harmony were the focus at an event celebrating the birth of a major spiritual figure.
Hundreds of people turned out to Fo Guang Shan Buddhist temple in Flat Bush on April 10-11 for its annual Buddha’s Birthday Multicultural Festival for World Peace Celebration.
It’s led by Venerable Abbess Manshin and is intended to promote “peace, harmony and magnanimity” and “share the spirit of joy within the community”.
The event began on April 10 with 160 babies and children being blessed in a special ceremony at the temple.
There were also workshops on motherhood and market stalls selling tasty treats and items such as lavender, honey and organic soaps.
Among those at the celebration on April 11 were Transport Minister Michael Wood, Botany MP Christopher Luxon, Counties Manukau Police district commander Superintendent Jill Rogers and police deputy commissioner Wally Haumaha.
Wood said being at the temple reminded him of a quote attributed to the venerated Christian figure Saint Francis of Assisi.
“He said, ‘Preach the gospel to all the world and use words if necessary’.
“I very much feel that whenever I visit the temple here.
“Because I know that for all who come to the temple for spiritual sustenance and for enlightenment, you are inspired by the teachings of the Buddha.
“But you don’t just talk about that to yourselves.
“Through the work of the temple you live that out in the communities of which you are a part.”
Luxon said Buddha’s birthday is a “good time to stop, reflect, and think about what is important in our lives”.
“The first thing is how do we treat and engage with each other,” he said.
“Secondly, how do we prioritise relationships we have with our family and our friends.
“Thirdly, how do we practise the virtues that we see here in the temple around compassion, kindness, generosity, and patience and make sure we work on those in our daily lives.”
Rogers said she prepared a speech for last year’s Buddha’s birthday but wasn’t able to deliver it because of the Covid lockdown.
“I had written about a safe home, a loving family and friends and sufficient food to nourish us.
“I think back as we were forced into lockdown and how that meant more time at home with family and friends, and in some cases lots of food and much cooking.
“I think of the teachings of the venerable master and of how we rise to adversity.
“Abbess, your team has taught us a lot about how to accept and rise to a challenge.”
Abbess Manshin spoke about the importance of respect.
She said where there is equality there is respect, and where there is peace there is growing.
“Equality requires mutual respect for one another,” she said.
“Equality depends on the ability to understand each other’s perspective.
“The real equality is based on the large respecting the small, the majority respecting the minority, the strong respecting the weak and the rich respecting the poor.”
The event included entertainment from traditional Chinese lion dancers, bagpipers and a stirring kapa haka performance from Papatoetoe Intermediate School pupils.