January 1 Shusho-E (Gathering to Recover the Correct Path) New Year's Day Service
This is traditionally the first service of the year, held on the morning of New Year's Day. It is a time to renew and affirm our ties to the Nembutsu teaching and to our fellow members of the Sangha.
January 16 Goshoki Hoonko (Observance of Anniversary of Death and Repay Debt of Gratitude)
Shinran Shonin's Memorial Service
Within the Nishi Honganji tradition this is the most important observance of the year. It is held to acknowledge our debt of gratitude to Shinran Shonin for opening the Nembutsu teachings for us. At our temple, we also present the annual Dana Award, to one man and woman, who have selflessly given of themselves, for the benefit of our Sangha. A New Year's Party luncheon is usually held following the service.
February 15 Nehan-E (Nirvana Gathering) Nirvana Day Service
When Shakyamuni Buddha attained Enlightenment, he achieved the state of Nirvana. However, in retaining his physical body, he did not achieve complete Nirvana. This observance is to commemorate Shakyamuni Buddha's death and entrance into complete Nirvana.
March 21 Shunki Higan-E (Spring Other Shore Gathering) Spring Ohigan
In the Jodo Shinshu Tradition this observance is also called San Butsu-E (Gathering to Praise Buddha). There are two observances of Ohigan. One is in the Spring and one is in the Fall, which coincide with the Spring and Vernal Equinox. These days of equal day and night, are also moderate in temperature and are therefore considered ideal for contemplating the Nembutsu teachings. The "other shore" is in reference to the other shore of enlightenment as opposed to this shore being the world of Samsara (Life and Death). Since it is through the power of Amida Buddha's vow that allows us to transcend this world to the world of enlightenment, this is a special day set aside for us to praise Buddha.
April 8 Hanamatsuri (Flower Festival) Kanbutsu-E (Bathe Buddha Gathering)
This is the day we celebrate the birth of Shakyamuni Buddha. Legend tells us that when the Buddha was born in Lumbini's Garden, the garden was in full bloom. At his birth, sweet rain fell from the sky and the Earth shook in six directions. On this day, we celebrate the birth of the Buddha and commemorate it by pouring sweet tea over a statue of the baby Buddha, thus the name Kanbutsu-E. The image of the baby Buddha is enshrined in a Hanamido (Flower Viewing Hall), decorated with many colorful flowers.
May 21 Shuso Gotan-E (Sect Founder Birthday Gathering) Fujimatsuri (Wisteria Festival)
This service is to celebrate the birth of Shinran Shonin (1173-1262), the founder of our sect. It is also called Fujimatsuri in reference to the Wisteria flower which represents our sect. Unlike other flowers which seem to stand up straight and tall when in full blossom, the wisteria hangs down, when in full bloom, as if in humility. This teaches us that a true and real human being does not stand up in arrogance at their accomplishments, but rather realizes that they have so much for which to be grateful. In connection with this very special observance, we hold Shosanshiki also know as Hatsumairi (First visit ceremony) or Infant Presentation service. This service is held for all children born into our Sangha over the past year. It is a day to present the child to Buddha and to the Sangha, and to celebrate their first step upon following the Dharma.
June Eshinni Ko Fujinkai Kaiin Tsuito Hoyo (Eshinni and Fujinkai Member's Memorial Service) Graduation Service
This is a memorial service for the wife of Shinran Shonin, Eshinni. Eshinni is considered the first role model of Jodo Shinshu womanhood. In this regard the memorial service is held in memory of any Fujinkai member who died during the previous year. Before this service a Graduation service is held for our Dharma School students. During this service, attendance and special awards are presented. This is the last day of Dharma School until September. This is usually held the first or second Sunday in June.
July Obon Festival
This festival is usually held on the second Saturday of July. It is the largest festival of the year. The Obon festival and the Obon memorial service are held in recognition of a story found in the Ulambana Sutra. The story concerns one of Shakyamuni Buddha's ten great disciples, Mogallana. In the sutra Mogallana learns the true meaning of gratitude through the life and death of his deceased mother and the help of Shakyamuni Buddha It was said that at his realization, Mogallana's joy was so great, that he began to dance. In commemoration of this legend, one of the highlights of the Obon festival, is the Obon dancing by the members of our Sangha and many others from the community.
July Urabon-E (Ulambana Gathering) Kangi-E (Gathering of Joy) Obon and Hatsubon Memorial Service
This special service is held on the Sunday following the Obon Festival. This memorial service is held in dedication and gratitude for all the members of our Sangha who have died over the previous year. Its basis is the same as our Obon Festival. Kangi-E is the name used traditionally in our Jodo Shinshu Tradition. This name represents the joy we feel for Amida Buddha's vow to save all sentient beings and the joy in knowing our deceased Sangha members are likewise embraced in that compassion.
Obon Cemetery Services
On the Friday preceding the Obon Festival and the Sunday morning of the Obon service, Rev. Hirano holds services at the local cemeteries. Friday evening at 6:00 p.m. at Redwood Road Memorial Estates, followed by the Mountain View Memorial Estates at 7:00 p.m. Sunday at 10:00 a.m. starting on at the Northern section of the Salt Lake City Cemetery. During the month of July, Rev. Hirano visits the cemeteries in Helper and Price, Utah, Kemmerer, Rock Springs, Diamondville and Green River, Wyoming, Ely, Nevada. For days and times please check your newsletter.
September Beginning of Dharma School
Dharma School begins once again. This service and registration day are held on the first Sunday after the Dharma School Picnic. This Dharma School picnic is held on the Sunday following Labor Day.
September 23 Shuki Higan-E (Autumn Other Shore Gathering) Autumn Ohigan
This service is held for the same reasons as the Spring Ohigan.
December 8 Bodhi Day (Enlightenment Day) Jodo-E (Completion of the Path Gathering)
This is the day that Siddartha Gautama attained enlightenment at the age of 35 and became the Buddha. The Saturday before this service, we usually hold a Bodhi Day seminar. This is a one day seminar, featuring a special speaker.
31 Joya-E (Last Night Gathering) New Year's Eve Service
This year end service is held to express gratitude for all the causes and conditions which have allowed us to live this past year. It is a time to reflect upon the interdependence of all Sangha members and the lives we live. At the end of the service all those attending the service participate in the ringing of the Joya no Kane (Last Night Bell). The Temple Bell is rung 108 times signifying the 108 Bonno or Passions that make up our human existence. This bell is rung to recognize these traits in our own personalities and express appreciation for Amida Buddha's compassion, which embraces us, even though we are bound by these passions.