Once a year
Bishops’ Memorial Service (Socho-Ki)
We gather for a memorial service to express or gratitude for the
contributions made by the bishops of the Buddhist Churches of America. Berkeley Buddhist Temple typically observes this memorial service at the end of July.
January 1st – New Year’s Day (Shusho-E)
This is a day of dedication. With renewed resolution we dedicate ourselves
to the way of the Nembutsu.
January 16th – Shinran Shonin Memorial Day (Hoonko)
Hoonko, meaning a gathering to express our gratitude, is a service in memory of Shinran Shonin (May 21, 1173-Janaury 16, 1262), the founder of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism. The Berkeley Buddhist Temple observes Hoonko in November based on the lunar calendar.
February 15th – Nirvana Day (Nehan-E)
On this day, we solemnly observe the passing of Sakyamuni Buddha into
Nirvana. Although he attained enlightenment and became the Buddha, he was still in his earthly form, subject to birth and death, but his teachings embodying the spirit of Buddhahood is eternal.
Beginning of March – Dana Day
Dana is one of the Six Paramita or Six Perfections in Pali. Dana is an act of selfless giving. This service reminds us to gratefully acknowledge the selfless acts of giving we have received and also encourages us to put forth this practice in our daily lives.
Middle of March – Spring Ohigan (Higan-E)
Higan, meaning, “Other Shore,” is a service conducted during the Spring
equinox. At this time, the weather is neither too warm nor too cold and the days and nights are of equal length. Therefore, we gather together and turn our minds to the harmony of nature and devote ourselves to the realization of this harmony in our inner lives while concentrating on the Six Paramita or Six Perfections. They include selfless giving (dana), discipline (sila), patience (ksanti), endeavor (virya), meditation (dhyana) and wisdom (prajna) and we humbly put them into practice.
April 8th – Buddha Day (Hanamatsuri)
Hanamatsuri, which literally means, “flower festival,” is a service held to
commemorate the birth of Siddhartha Gautama in Lumbini Garden. Amida, the Buddha of Infinite Wisdom and Compassion, manifested himself among all sentient beings as Siddhartha Gautama.
May 21st – Shinran Shonin Day (Gotan-E)
The birthday of Shinran Shonin is commemorated on May 21 st by followers of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism throughout the world. This day is also referred to as Fujimatsuri or Wisteria Festival Day at some of the temples. For Jodo Shinshu followers, this day is most important as it was Shinran Shonin who developed the Nembutsu teachings.
July 15th-August 15th Gathering of Joy (Obon)
The Obon service and Obon Odori (folk dancing), which accompanies it, are observed between July 15 th and August 15 th in the Buddhist temples and communities. The Berkeley Buddhist Temple observes our Obon service and festival in July. Together they form a mixture of solemn respect and reflection and a time of rejoicing in the teachings. The true significance of the Obon service and festival lies in the rededication our ourselves to the Buddhist way of life by reflecting upon the love, affection, compassion, and virtues that our parents and others who have passed before us, have given to us while they were still alive.
Buddhist Churches of America (BCA) Founding Day
(Beikoku Bukkyo Kaikyo Kinenbi)
Reverend Shuei Sonoda and Reverend Kakuryo Nishijima, dispatched by the Nishi Hongwanji in Kyoto, Japan to minister to the Buddhists in America, arrived in San Francisco, California on September 1, 1899. This day marks the official introduction of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism into the mainland United States. Thus, September 1 st has been designated as the BCA Founding Day by the Buddhist Churches of America.
Middle of September – Fall Ohigan (Higan-E)
It has been a long Buddhist tradition to gather in or temples twice a year during the Spring and Fall equinox to recall the Six Paramita, which include selfless giving (dana), discipline (sila), patience (ksanti), endeavor (virya), meditation (dhyana) and wisdom (prajna) and humbly put them into practice.
October – Eshinni-ko Memorial Service
Eshinni-ko was the wife of Shinran Shonin. We observe this memorial service to express our gratitude for her dedication and contributions to Jodo Shinshu Buddhism.
November – Perpetual Memorial Service (Eitaikyo)
The Eitaikyo service is a special memorial service held for all of our loved
ones who have departed this universe. The Eitaikyo memorial service embraces all of our departed loved ones and is a time set aside to pay resect and remembrance for our beloved ones who have returned to the Pure Land before us. It is a day when our thoughts may reflect to happier days and the impact of sharing life with those who have passed and to realize the impermanence of this world and the importance
of faith in Amida Buddha in our every day lives.
December 8th – Bodhi Day (Jodo-E)
Siddhartha Gautama meditated under the Bodhi Tree (Tree of
Enlightenment) and became the Buddha, perfect in Wisdom and Compassion. This historic event took place on December 8 th as the first faint light of day began to glow in the eastern sky. By his example, he showed us that it was possible for human beings to become a Buddha, which is a fully enlightened person. Therefore, we are in possession of this potentiality called Buddha-nature, which awakened and cultivated, will enable us to achieve supreme Wisdom and Compassion.
December 31st – New Year’s Eve (Joya-E)
At the end of each year it is a custom to attend the New Year’s Eve service to bring the year to a close. It provides us with an opportunity to quietly contemplate on the events of the past year and to rejoice in gratitude for the many opportunities we were able to enjoy.
Taken from the following sources: The Buddhist Holidays illustrated by Setsuko Takemura, The Buddhist Holidays by Rev. George Shibata, and Buddhist Holidays/Services by Mike Shibata