On a brisk winters morning, the doors of the headquarters of Tasmanian Chinese Buddhist Academy of Australia opened for the celebration of the 2562nd Holy Birthday of the Great Holy Sakymauni Buddha, as dignitaries, guests and practitioners filled Asraya Palace – the first floor of the Academy’s building.
This year, aside from local and state politicians, community leaders and community members who joined in the celebration, the Academy was honoured to have the Honourable Vice Consul-General Sun Yan, and Consul Deng Bei, both of the Consulate-General of the People’s Republic of China in Melbourne, sharing the day with us.
Alongside the representatives from the Consulate-General, dignitaries included the Attorney-General and representative of the Premier of Tasmania, The Hon. Elise Archer MP; representative of the Leader of the Opposition, Ella Haddad MP; President of the Legislative Council, Hon. Jim Wilkinson MLC; The Right Honourable the Lord Mayor of Hobart, Alderman Ron Christie; Ron Franks, CEO of Crime Stoppers Tasmania; and Damon Wise, General Manager of The Mercury. We were also joined by numerous community leaders, including Aboriginal Elder, Aunty Eva Richardson, and various leaders of Chinese communities in Hobart.
The celebration included speeches by dignitaries—where many praised the efforts of Master Wang and the Academy in actively promoting the values of both Chinese and Buddhist culture, and the longstanding contribution towards the community—as well as traditional Buddhist rituals and performances.
As part of the celebratory component of the Bathing Buddha Holy Ceremony, birthday cakes were shared with all guests. This is symbolic of an integration of the elements of Western culture, and according to the doctrines of Mahayana Buddhism: “everyone has Buddha nature, everyone is Buddha”; celebrating the holy birthday of the Great Holy Buddha is to celebrate the birthday of all sentient beings.