A giant statue of the Buddha—believed to be the largest in the Western world—is scheduled to be inaugurated in Brazil later this month with a formal Buddhist ceremony at Morro da Vargem Zen Monastery in Ibiraçu Municipality, in the state of Espírito Santo.
Standing 38 meters tall—the same height as the iconic image of Christ the Redeemer, which overlooks the city of Rio de Janeiro—the statue of the seated Buddha took more than a year to complete. It was originally scheduled to be unveiled in September 2020, but this was postponed due to technical delays and because of the COVID-19 pandemic to January this year.
Mosteiro Zen Morro da Vargem was the first Zen Buddhist monastery to be established in South America. Founded in 1974 by the monk Ryotan Tokuda, the monastery, which sits at an elevation of 350 meters, trains monks according to traditional Soto Zen and environmental education. It sits on a site spread over 150 hectares, including 140 hectares that has been set aside for forest conservation and reforestation.
The formal Eye-Opening ritual was performed in the presence of senior Zen priest Minamizawa Zenji in December last year, although because of the pandemic, the ceremony was not open to the public but was live-streamed.
“Before it was just a statue, now it’s a statue with a soul,” explained the monastery’s abbot, Daiju Bitti after the ceremony. (Pé na Estrada)
According to local media reports, an official inauguration ceremony is scheduled to take place at 10am local time on 28 August. The ceremony will be open to the public and will be attended by state governor Renato Casagrande.
The statue, made from 350 tonnes of iron, steel, and concrete, is expected to become one of the biggest tourist attractions in Brazil. Under normal circumstances, the monastery receives around 1,000 visitors each weekend.
The monastery complex also includes the largest Zen garden in the West and the largest torii —a traditional Japanese gate—in the Americas. Fifteen smaller white Buddha statues sit in meditation nearby, representing the serenity we should seek to maintain during difficult times and the need to be persistent and to not give up in the face of life’s obstacles.
Christianity is the most widespread religion in Brazil, according to 2010 census data, and is observed by about 88.8 per cent of the population of more than 210 million people, most of whom identify as Catholic. However, Brazil is also home to the third-largest Buddhist population in the Americas, after the United States and Canada, with nearly 150 temples spread across the country.
Buddhism was first introduced to Brazil in the early 20th century by Japanese immigrants and is believed to be the largest of all the minority religions in the country, with an estimated 250,000 followers, which includes Brazil’s sizable Japanese Brazilian community. The most popular Buddhist traditions are Japanese schools of Buddhism, including Jodo Shinshu, Nichiren, and Zen, although all four major schools of Vajrayana Buddhism—Nyingma, Gelug, Sakya, and Kagyu—maintain active centers, including Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche’s Khadro Ling center in Três Coroas, Rio Grande do Sul. In recent years Chinese Mahayana and Southeast Asian Theravada traditions have also gained in popularity.
Morro da Vargem Zen Monastery
Buda gigante em Ibiraçu será inaugurado no final de agosto; veja a data (A Gazeta)
Buda gigante é inaugurado durante Cerimônia no Mosteiro de Ibiraçu (Pé na Estrada)
O Buda gigante de Ibiraçu | Brasil (Olhar Budista)
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