Monthly Memorial Days
Rissho Kosei-kai’s monthly memorial days are: the 1st, for the first-day devotions of the month; the 4th to commemorate the late founder, Mr. Nikkyo Niwano; the 10th to commemorate the late cofounder, Mrs. Myoko Naganuma; and the 15th to mark Shakyamuni Buddha’s nirvana. By revering the Buddha through sincere recitation of the Lotus Sutra on these days, members remember and praise the virtues and teachings of the founder and the cofounder, as well as express their deep gratitude.
The monthly memorial days allow members: 1) to reflect on the meaning and purpose of their lives; 2) to reaffirm the Eternal Buddha as their refuge and focus of devotion; 3) to become aware that they are sustained by the Eternal Buddha; and 4) to renew their vow to be diligent in practicing the Buddha’s teachings.
On these days, Rissho Kosei-kai members can renew their inner determination and dedication by listening to other members’ discussions of their spiritual journeys, and participating in Dharma circles. Members gather at local Dharma centers and other meeting places to cultivate their own hearts and minds by sharing their joys and gratitude with fellow members, building a Buddhist community that is filled with the warmth of human kindness, joy, and trust.
Annual Memorial Days and Special Ceremonies and Events
Rissho Kosei-kai members convene ceremonies on annual memorial days and hold special activities to mark annual observances. List of these days and events are below.
|January 1||New Year’s Visit to the Great Sacred Hall / Dharma Center||Rissho Kosei-kai members in Tokyo visit the Great Sacred Hall on the morning of New Year’s Day in order to pray for humanity’s happiness and world peace for the year by reciting the Lotus Sutra. Local members also visit their Dharma centers to pray.|
|January 7||President’s First Dharma Talk for the Year||The president of Rissho Kosei-kai delivers his first Dharma talk of the year to give guidance on religious practice by explaining the significance of the Buddhist concepts he inscribed on New Year’s Day in Japanese calligraphy on two hanging scrolls. These are displayed on the altar of the Great Sacred Hall.|
|January 20 to February 3||Midwinter Sutra Recitation Practice||Members gather at the Great Sacred Hall and local Dharma centers to chant the entire Threefold Lotus Sutra over fifteen days in order to purify their hearts and minds.|
|February 3||Setsubun-e (Bean-scattering Gathering)||Setsubun is observed on the day marking the end of winter and the beginning of spring according to the ancient lunar calendar. Members gather at local Dharma centers to scatter beans, an act that symbolizes dispelling the demons of bad luck and inviting the gods of good luck. This ritual signifies eliminating the bad karma of the previous year and making a fresh start for the beginning of the lunar New Year.|
|February 15||Commemoration of Shakyamuni Buddha Entering Nirvana||Shakyamuni died on February 15, when he is said to have entered parinirvana, complete freedom from the cycle of birth and death. After entering parinirvana and extinguishing his physical form, he became one with the eternal life-force of the universe and has continued to be involved with the liberation of all living beings, including ourselves. This anniversary enables us to recognize that truth, and thus it is considered a day of thanksgiving to the Buddha rather than a day of sadness over his death.|
|March 5||Anniversary of the Founding of Rissho Kosei-kai||Members reflect on the significance of the establishment of Rissho Kosei-kai. Founder Niwano established the organization with about thirty fellow members on March 5, 1938, based on the ethos that all humanity could attain liberation through the teachings of the Lotus Sutra. Members express their gratitude and renew their vows to engage in bodhisattva practice for the welfare of others.|
|April 8||Anniversary of the Birth of Shakyamuni||Shakyamuni’s birth is celebrated on April 8. On that day, members reflect on the meaning of his birth and join in the ritual of pouring sweet tea over an image of the infant Shakyamuni, which is placed in a miniature pagoda. The celebration in this style takes place in East Asian Buddhist countries. In South and Southeast Asian countries Vesak is observed to mark several events in the life of the Buddha, including his birth, enlightenment, and parinirvana. According to the Theravada tradition it is observed on the day of the full-moon in either April or May.|
|Third Sunday in May||Youth Day||Young members of Rissho Kosei-kai partake in activities to bring about social awareness of today’s problems, in order to benefit people around the world. These include activities such as collecting blankets to send to disadvantaged people in Africa, soliciting contributions for UNICEF, calling public attention to destruction of the natural environment, and promoting the recycling of wastes.|
|July 15||Ullambana Ceremony||According to the Ullambana Sutra, one of Shakyamuni’s major disciples, Maudgalyayana (Mogallana in Pali), was able to rescue his mother from hell by the merits that he and his fellow monks attained through reciting sutras. Similarly, members gather at this ceremony to chant the sutra for their ancestors’ attainment of buddhahood.|
|August 15||Memorial for All Victims of War and Prayers for Peace||The Second World War ended on this day in 1945. Members pray for world peace and wish that all victims of the war, Japanese and non-Japanese alike, and both combatants and civilians, may attain a peaceful state in the beyond.|
|September 10||Annual Memorial Day of Cofounder Naganuma||Cofounder Myoko Naganuma died on September 10, 1957. She dedicated her entire life to the dissemination of the teachings of the Lotus Sutra for the happiness of many people. Members remember her virtues of compassion and religious practice at this ceremony and pledge to follow her example in their daily activities.|
|October 4||Annual Memorial Day of Founder Niwano||Founder Nikkyo Niwano passed away on October 4, 1999. This anniversary reminds members of his dedication to the liberation of humanity and the achievement of world peace. They reflect upon and praise his virtues and express their gratitude to him by renewing their dedication to activities for peace and the public welfare.|
|First Sunday in October||Oeshiki Ichijo Festival||On this occasion, members recall the blessings they have received through the teachings of the distinguished priest Nichiren (1222-82) and Founder Niwano. Thanks to the inheritance of the Dharma from Shakyamuni to Nichiren, then to Founder Niwano, members are able to recognize the essential meaning of life and thus achieve true happiness.|
|October 13||Religious Service for the Priest Nichiren||The Japanese priest Nichiren passed away on October 13, 1282. He persevered in disseminating the teachings of the Lotus Sutra, overcoming many difficulties and much persecution. His work enabled later Buddhists to understand and practice the teachings of the sutra with less difficulty. On this occasion, members deepen their gratitude to him and remember his great virtues and achievements.|
|November 15||Anniversary of the Birth of Founder Niwano||Founder Nikkyo Niwano was born on November 15, 1906. His birth and life enabled innumerable people to become aware of the true purpose of life and the way to attain the ideal human state. To reciprocate his compassion, members renew their vows to practice the teachings that Founder Niwano left for them.|
|December 8||Anniversary of Shakyamuni’s Attainment of Buddhahood||Shakyamuni left his wife and son and gave up his royal position as prince in order to discover the causes of human suffering inherent in existence, old age, illness, and death. After six years of ascetic practice he finally attained enlightenment at dawn on December 8, according to tradition. On this day, members hold celebrations to express their gratitude for his extraordinary effort that made it possible for them to also encounter the truth to which he awakened. At the same time, they renew their devotion to share the Buddha’s teachings with others.|