By Madeline Ziecker
On November 6, 2011 the Kahului Hongwanji Mission became an honorable historic presence in Maui, celebrating their 100th anniversary as a congregation and as a temple. Events on the day of the centennial included a Chigo parade, a special commemoration service, and a celebratory luncheon at the Maui Tropical Plantation.
Kahului Hongwanji Mission was founded in 1911 as a branch of Wailuku Hongwanji Mission and later became independent in 1957. Since the mission began operating independently, it has become a positive force of community, culture, and Buddhist teaching in Kahului.
Centennial events began at 9 a.m. with picture-taking and a traditional Chigo parade where temple ministers and children were decorated in bright, beautiful Japanese clothing to honor the importance of the day.
During the commemoration service which began at 10 a.m., the decorated ministers conducted a series of sacred chants appropriate for the occasion.
The sermon, normally given by Reverend Jeffrey Soga, was delivered by Bishop Eric Matsumoto from Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii in Honolulu.
In his sermon, Matsumoto explained the theme of the centennial, “Rooted in the Dharma-Flourishing Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow.” He told the story of how the Buddha began to turn the “Wheel of Dharma” by sharing his enlightenment with his very first disciples. This relates to the Kahului Hongwanji, Matsumoto explains, in that they have continuously turned this wheel by sharing this sense of Dharma with the community of Maui in the past and present, and new technology allows them to continue to spread the message into the future.
Both Mayor Alan Arakawa and Diedre Teagarden, the Maui liaison for Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie, were present at the event and spoke a few words of congratulation to the congregation.
Mayor Arakawa regarded the centennial event as one which “marks an important part of our island’s history.” Arakawa emphasized that the values of peace, gratitude, family and interdependence preached by Kahului Hongwanji Mission are the pillars of a strong Maui community.
In his letter of congratulation to the congregation, Governor Abercrombie wrote, “The Japanese culture has contributed tremendous gifts to Hawaii including architectural design, cultural heritage, traditional arts, delicious food, literature, reverence for our elders and the importance of Buddhism in our everyday lives. Thanks to the Kahului Hongwanji, these traditions are being preserved and perpetuated for generations to come.”
US senators Daniel K. Inouye and Mazie K. Hirono also wrote letters of gratitude to the Kahului Hongwanji Mission which were included in the event program.
The centennial celebration concluded with a luncheon at Maui Tropical Plantation which featured a raffle, a buffet, live Japanese entertainment, and professional family photograph opportunities.