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An ‘unbirthday’ party for Buddha

April 18, 2017 - 12:45am

HONOKAA — Honokaa Hongwanji will celebrate Buddha’s birthday 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday in the Social Hall.

An expanded version of a traditional day to honor the birthday of Syakamuni Buddha, the event gives people of all ages a chance to celebrate their own birthday, regardless of its actual date.

The free, family-friendly gathering will include music and dance performances by the New Dharma Band, lucky number drawings for the keiki, a birthday cake contest and a community potluck.

A highlight will be a presentation by Lillian Paiva of Honokaa Ki-Aikido Club. A 25-year practitioner and second-degree black belt, she will speak about meditation as an integral part of the martial arts, especially aikido. Students will help illustrate some of her talking points, and Paiva will lead the audience in a guided meditation practice.

“For a lot of people, their only association with aikido is Steven Seagall movies,” she said. “That’s one kind, ‘movie aikido,’ and it’s different from what we do.”

Paiva explained that the word aikido is actually three words: ai (harmony), ki (essential life particles) and do (path).She said her dojo practices shin shin toitsu aikido which translates to “mind body unified.” That style combines physical movement and meditation with ki breathing — deep, mindful breathing that enlarges the capacity for awareness.

“Aikido then is a path to becoming one with the universe,” Paiva said. “We come to realize that the mind leads the body, and not the other way around. It’s a process of letting go, and living in the moment 100 percent.”

A modern martial arts practice, aikido originated in 1883, and came to Hawaii in 1961. Its philosophy teaches that everyone and everything is connected.

“We are all one, so why can’t everyone celebrate everyone’s birthday?” said Miles Okumura, the event’s organizer. “If it’s not your birthday, it’s your ‘un-birthday.’ Okumura said that either way attendees are encouraged to bring family and friends, and to celebrate the birthdays of everyone they care about — teachers, coaches, coworkers, favorite musicians and others from today and yesterday.”

In Buddhist culture, Buddha’s birthday is traditionally honored on the first full moon date in the fourth month, however in Japan temples host the “Hana-Matsuri” (flower festival), and a ritual “bathing” of the baby Buddha by pouring sweet tea on a small statue of the child.

The event will begin at 11:30 a.m. with a short service and the guest lecture. Attendees interested can participate in the tradition of pouring sweet tea on the statue of the baby Buddha.

The Hongwanji Buddhist Temple Social Hall is located in Honokaa. The Un-Birthday Party is free and all are welcome, regardless of faith or religious background.

RSVP: Contact Jeanne Clement at or text 640-4602

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