Buddhist Holiday Observances at BTC

The following list of Buddhist holidays is by no means exhaustive or indicative of the practices of other temples or streams of Buddhadharma. Highlighted items have links to more detailed information. Where links are on other sites, they will open up in a new window. Please visit this area often to see new writeups and essays by eloquent authors.
Ongoing Observances

Shotsuki Hoyo
(monthly memorial): first Sun. each month with some exceptions. Please contact the temple office at 773-334-4661 for each month's Shotsuki Hoyo date. As of April 10, allEnglish Language Sunday services, in cluding Shotsuki Hoyo will be conducted at a new place and time. As of April 10 all Japanese Language Shotosuki Hoyo services will be observed at 1:115pm in the Ministers' Residence building first floor, 4641 N. Racine

Ti Sarana
Formal investiture in the Sangha. While BTC and other Shin-oriented temples do not have monks or nuns, participation in Ti Sarana gives the participant a symbolic connection to the monastic life, that is, a life completely devoted to the Buddhadharma. Participants recite the Three Treasures, have their heads symbolically shaved (The razor is not honed; no hair is actually cut.), and receive a Dharma name.
Ti Sarana can be scheduled at the request of the individual or offered from time to time by the Temple to anyone interested in participating as a member of a group in this ceremony.

New Year’s Day - while technically not a Buddhist holiday, the occasion is used to renew commitment to live the Dharma in the new year and vow to renounce the 108 Bon-No (or 108 ways one can transgress against one’s fellow creatures).

Nirvana Day - Usually observed the second Sunday in February, is the date, according to Mahayana tradition, of Shakyamuni Buddha’s death and passing into Mahaparinirvana (complete extinction of ego-self and reuinification with the universe). Link to the Buddha’s last words.

Spring O-Higan

Higan-e is one of the few religious holidays which does not originate with Sakyamuni Buddha or a founder. It appears to be a distinct Japanese holiday originating in the early Heian Period (794-1190) and was presumably observed from the time of Prince Shotoku.

The word Higan comes from the Sanskrit word Paramita, which is translated as “other shore.” It is an abbreviation of Tohigan (“to arrive”). Tohigan means “to arrive at the Other Shore.” The “Other Shore” is Enlightenment or Nirvana, that is, the Pure Land. We are able to arrive at or reach the Other Shore when we transcend the life of birth-and-death, crossing over the sea of worldly passions arising from illusion.

How can we cross this wide sea and arrive at the Other Shore of Nirvana? The Six Paramita serve as a bridge spanning across this wide sea, and by practicing Charity, Morality, Patience, Right Effort, Right Meditation, and Right Wisdom, we can reach the Other Shore.

These Six Paramita teach us the essential Buddhistic way of life which every Buddhist should follow everyday. Applying the Six Paramita in our daily lives is the Shinshu way of expressing our gratitude and thanksgiving for our unconditional salvation. It is not necessary for us to wait until Higan to practice the Six Paramita; rather, let us proceed to do so from today, for tomorrow may never come. Higan is a time for us to simply express our gratitude to Amida Buddha for awakening us to his boundless Compassion-Wisdom.

“Higan” means “the other shore.” It is an abbreviation for “to higan” meaning “reaching the other shore (of nirvana).” Conducted during the vernal and autumnal equinoxes when days and nights are of equal length, it is a service of reflection when practicers should meditate on the harmony of nature and devote themselves to the realization of this harmony in our inner lives. During the week-long observances, emphasis is placed on observance of the Six Paramitas (precepts) which lead to “the other shore.” Paramita is the Sanskrit for “gone to other shore.”

Source: Jodo Shinshu, A Guide

Hanamatsuri or Wesak - Usually the Sunday on or before April 8, the observance of the birth of Siddhartha Gautama, who would eventually become the historical Buddha. Please note April 3, 2005 Hanamatsuri will be the last official service at 1151 W. Leland. Refer to the sitemap for changes to our schedule an dlocations during demolition of the old temple and construction of the new one.

Hatsumairi or Parents’ Day--This is the first formal visit by a child to the Temple. The child and parents participate in a brief ceremony including the Three Treasures. Each child receives a certificate of Hatsumairi (First Presentation) and an o-juzu (meditation beads).


Fall O-Higan


Bodhi Day