In Japanese, there is a proverb that says “Hot and cold weather last until the equinox.” This week-long ceremony takes place on the spring and fall equinoxes, the middle of an important week when the weather is usually very good. Higan is the teaching that leads people from the world of delusion to the world of awakening. There are six components of this teaching: giving, precepts, perseverance, diligence, zazen, and wisdom. It is taught that if we carry out these practices we will be blessed with happiness and good fortune. At the Higan Service, prayers are made to departed loved ones to express our gratitude to them. (HANAMATSURI) BUDDHA DAY (HANAMATSURI) Shakyamuni Buddha’s birthday is celebrated on April 8th. He was born 2500 years ago to King Suddhodana and Queen Maya in the garden of Lumbini which was located in Kapilavastu, a small kingdom in the Himalayan foothills. He was called Siddhartha and later, Shakyamuni Buddha. The “Flower Festival,” translated into Japanese as Hanamatsuri, is also known as Buddha Day. It has long been said that at the time of his birth Shakymuni Buddha said, “Heaven, earth and I are all one person.” At each temple, a small pavilion called the hanamido, houses a statue of the baby Buddha pointing one index finger toward heaven and the other toward earth, and is decorated with flowers. During the Hanamatsuri ceremony, amacha, or sweet tea, is poured over the statue of the baby Buddha that stands under the hanamido. Sweet tea is an essential element of the Flower Festival. According to the legend, two Dragon Kings rained warm and cool sweet water from heaven to bathe the baby Buddha.