April 8th of the Lunar Calendar is Sakyamuni Buddha’s Birthday, and is also known as “Bathing the Buddha Festival.” Fo Guang Shan Buddhist temples worldwide have continued to introduce diverse ways of celebrating this day. For example, to allow the event to become a part of daily life, there are mobile stations for bathing the Prince’s statue, blood drives to repay others’ kindness, and prayer services for babies. When Venerable Master Hsing Yun was in Yilan, he used to have a variety of creative ideas such as dramas, costume parades, and Dharma offerings to celebrate the day (FGS: Our Report 2014).
In Buddhist practice, to proclaim “I am Buddha” is to acknowledge our Buddha nature and that we will act in the same way as the Buddha. In celebrating the Buddha’s birthday, the Prince’s statue is bathed as a reminder of cleansing ourselves and freeing ourselves of defilements. Every year, Fo Guang Shan temples in the Philippines provide a venue for everyone to bathe the Buddha. Bathing the Buddha has been done in shopping malls, public parks, barangay halls, schools and even in markets.