Spiritual harmony was celebrated by attendees during FGS Nan Hua Temple’s 2014 Ceremony of Light and Peace held on 28 September 2014 in Bronkhorstspruit. Ordinary daily thoughts were raised to the profound. Peace instead of war, harmony instead of hatred, admiration instead of jealousy, generosity instead of greed, tolerance instead of intolerance and wisdom instead of ignorance. It was a mindful celebration of prayer and blessing for mankind’s compassion in all things.
Program director, Anny Lee warmly welcomed attendees and explained the ceremonial procedures. “This annual ceremony has become increasingly popular as we see many familiar faces and unfamiliar faces. It is so great to have so many of you here today to share our common goal of creating more light and peace in our world” said Lee. She continued, “It is important to have light in our lives as it guides us away from darkness and also illuminates the surrounding around us. Today, we would like to share the light with everyone around us and extend the positive meanings associated with light to everyone in the world as light does not discriminate and provides everyone with equal brightness regardless of their race, religion and gender.” Each person had the opportunity of offering their light, saying a prayer to those close to them and to everyone in the world while chanting ‘Om mani pe mei hom’, which means to open the door to attain ultimate wisdom.
Each attendee received a ‘magic egg’ or ‘wishing tree’, celebrating internal growth as well as harmony with the natural world around us. These special eggs, with a little bit of water added, creates an endearing plant with a special lasered inscription message.
Music meditation followed presented by Tshegofatso Makhafola who sang Ave Maria, a prayer to praise Mother Mary who gave birth to Jesus and Hallelujah, a praise to the Lord. A very vibrant Dharma drum session followed performed by a student from the African Buddhist Seminary. The Dharma Drum is used in Dharma functions and is a symbolism to being solemn and dignified. A solo followed played on a drum commonly seen in all Buddhist Temples being played every morning and evening to signify the start and end of the day; a prayer for good weather to provide us with the environment to flourish and be sustainable.
Venerable Master Hui Fang, Abbot of Nan Hua Temple, led all into guided sitting meditation, explaining the benefits of daily meditation followed by the transference of merits. Any wholesome or spiritual practice generates merit as it produces a positive and beneficial result, so, in sharing our merit with all other sentient beings, everyone benefits.
Abbot Hui Fang thanked all attendees for participating in the annual festival of light and peace and said, “As you know, we are all human and as humans, we experience fear in our daily lives and that is part of our fate. Today, we made a wish, a prayer and meditate to focus our minds, increasing the power of our minds to overcome the obstacles in our lives. We must take what we have experienced and learned today and practice it in our daily life; meditation, compassion for others, how to transform the positive energy that we have created and spread it to everyone in the world. After today, we must practice meditation everyday especially when you are facing a difficult time in your life and try to overcome it.”
A scrumptious vegetarian lunch was served and the Buddha Light International Association’s youth league entertained the guests, collecting funds for an animal shelter; one of their charity projects.
Chinese New year celebrated at Nan Hua Temple
On the eve of 30 January 2014, local Chinese gathered at Nan Hua Temple to enter the new lunar year in traditional Chinese style.
Chinese New Year is an important traditional Chinese holiday celebrated at the turn of the Chinese calendar. In China, it is also known as the Spring Festival, the literal translation of the modern Chinese name, Nian festival. The New Year is celebrated on the first new moon of the New Year. This year is the Year of the Horse according to Chinese customs.
The Abbot of Nan Hua Temple, Venerable Hui Fang, opened the doors at 23h30 and the celebrations started with a service that included paying homage to a thousand Buddhas. The traditional incense offering led to the chanting of the Heart Sutra after which the chant of the prayer to all Buddhas took place followed by the attendees taking Refuge in the Triple Gem and the Transference of Merit.
Venerable Hui Fang led the proceedings and read the prayer for the New Year written by the founder of Fo Guang Shan, Master Hsing Yun. Venerable Yi Chun shared a very inspiring message for the upcoming year and also recalled some past memories.
Our sincere apologies to those who did not receive the message that there would be no event on 31 December 2013 at the Temple due to the passing of Madiba. Chinese New Year will be celebrated as usual on 2 February 2014 from 9h30 to 15h00 with a cultural festival. Nan Hua Temple will celebrate New Year 2015 in its usual way on 31 December 2014.
The illuminating Light of the Buddha continues to shine even to areas situated quite far away from Nan Hua Temple. The blessings of the Buddha and its teachings of compassion and giving, has spearheaded life-changing experiences to people that not had the privilege of gaining skills such as the ability to use computers. The program, which was originally intended to assist the community around the Temple in Bronkhorstspruit, has now reached people 600 kilometres away and is still going strong.
The launch of new computer lab in Giyani on 13 December 2013 proved a very valuable early Christmas present for the Giyani community. This fully-furnished computer lab with well-trained computer skills facilitators and state-of-the-art computers is situated in the rural Makosha village. The classes are offered free of charge. 15 computers were handed over to the Vongani Skills Development Centre in order to provide much-needed computer training to the previously disadvantaged people of the Giyani community.
Venerable Hui Xing, Nan Hua Temple’s Manager, blessed the occasion with his heartfelt speech, when he reminded the community that, the hardship, lack of skills, poverty and their desire to develop and grow both financially and personally, is felt by the people at the Temple 600kms away. In answer to this, the 15 computers were installed and the first 30 beneficiaries were graduating. He continued saying that, through the Buddha’s compassion and the willpower of the people of Giyani to acquire knowledge in the future, more and more centres like this will be opened and more and more people will have a chance to gain the knowledge, enabling them to kick-start their life. The crowd applauded joyfully and celebrated loudly. Lastly, he reminded the graduates to be role models for those who will follow and to encourage others to make use of this great opportunity to enable them to also give back to the community.
Mrs Mathonsi, founder of the centre, shared the history of Vongani Skills Development Centre and its dealings with Nan Hua Temple. She recalled her request for 20 wheelchairs, which were delivered in 2009 and another 15 wheelchairs, which were delivered earlier this year by the Temple. Through this unconditional assistance from the Temple, she realised that religious boundaries are mere illusions, as we all strive to reach the same goal; hence, she has so much respect for the Buddhism and what it stands for. She encouraged the community of Giyani to see for themselves what Buddhism can do for their community.
She reminded the community about compassion shown by the Temple and said that they should ask themselves that if, for example, their neighbour’s child wants to come and learn to use the computer in their house, would they allow that without worrying ‘what if this or that would’ happen. “Now look at the Buddhist community from far away, who just presented us with gifts without ‘what ifs’, she concluded.
Lastly, Chief of Homu, the traditional leader, on behalf of the community of Giyani, thanked the Buddha’s Light International Association (BLIA) for the wonderful gift presented to their people. He assured the Temple that the computers were in good hands; that the community will look after and cherished it. He also said that the community will be encouraged to not only learn from the heart, but also apply what they learn to improve their life lives rapidly. He welcomed the graduates back to the community and reiterated that they must use the skills they gained to be more useful to themselves as well as the community of Giyani as a whole.