To celebrate the traditional Buddhist Kathina festival this year, the Young Buddhist Association (YBA) of Indonesia organized a special event in East Java titled “Mindful Festival 2022” from 12–16 October. The event was aimed at introducing the concept of mindfulness to the general public, and sharing the blessings and teachings of the month-long Kathina Festival.
Held annually in the four weeks following the end of Vassa, the rains retreat, Kathina is one of the most important festivals for Theravada Buddhists, during which laypeople offer robes, food, and other supplies to the monastic community.
Explaining the opening of the “Sanghadana at Kathina Month” celebration on 14 October in the city of Surabaya, as part of Mindful Festival 2022, Billy Lukito Joeswanton chairman of the YBA, told BDG: “The Sanghadana event and the 2022 Mindful Festival brought together members of the Indonesian Theravada Sangha and the Supreme Sangha of Indonesia.
“This event was aimed at introducing the concept of mindfulness and bringing the atmosphere of the month of Kathina to the general public. . . . Through this event, we hoped that visitors could recognize and feel the benefits of practicing mindfulness in their daily lives, so that they would be happier. We hope that through mindfulness, everyone can experience healing—healing through mindfulness is beneficial for both our physical and mental health.”
Mindful Festival 2022 featured traditional celebrations combined with modern technology. Among the many attractions for the public were displays of art, musical performances, calligraphy workshops, lion dances, mindfulness workshops, and performances by children from Sunday Schools run by Buddhist monasteries in Surabaya.
In his official statement, YBA chief executive Gondo Wibowo noted that Surabaya had never had a history of inter-religious conflict, but rather it has flourished as a harmonious city of togetherness in diversity.
“We must dare to show that the city of Surabaya has been a heterogeneous city from the start,” Wibowo emphasized. “If we don’t show it and celebrate it, what comes out is actually people who prioritize differences, and that’s what is dangerous.”
Surabaya is the capital of the Indonesian province of East Java, and the second-largest city in Indonesia after the national capital Jakarta.
The Director General for Guidance of the Buddhist Community, under Indonesia’s Ministry of Religion, Supriyadi, also joined the event, offering praise for the occasion and expressing his appreciation of the local Buddhist community.
“I am proud of the young Buddhists in East Java,” Supriyadi noted. “This is a phenomenal activity, and the young people can recognize the benefits of good activities. In this way, people will see and understand that there are beneficial traditions that are carried out in the city of Surabaya.”
Supriyadi added: “This has demonstrated the monumental work of these young friends, who are able to show that religious activities are not only rituals in houses of worship; they are able to carry them out into the wider community.”
Thanks to these activities, the community will gain a greater understanding of the beneficial traditions carried out by Buddhists in Indonesia, Supriyadi said, adding that East Java had received recognition as the best province in the country in terms of detecting and resolving early signs of social disharmony.
City mayor Eri Cahyadi offered his own praise for the religious tolerance between communities in the city on the occasion of the Buddhist festival.
“I have always said that Surabaya is a city of tolerance—all religions co-exist in the city of Surabaya,” Cahyadi said, observing that the city was safe and comfortable thanks to the prayers offered by all the religious communities who lived there and the interfaith harmony between them.
“Surabaya is still standing tall from social dangers and COVID-19 because all of our prayers are inter-religious,” he added. “Today all the Buddhist monks pray for the city of Surabaya, and so Surabaya has become an extraordinary city.”
The mayor expressed hope that the festival program would opens the eyes and hearts of the people, such that if anyone were to accuse another religion of being an opponent, they would recognize the error of their words.
The Young Buddhist Association of Indonesia is the leading Buddhist youth organization in Indonesia. Through a conviction in the Buddha’s mission of compassion, growth, and liberation, the association promotes a positive lifestyle among the young to develop a society founded on wisdom, compassion, and gratitude. The association is involved in establishing Buddhist organizations nationwide, propagating the study of the Dharma among young people, and providing leadership training.
Young Buddhist Association of Indonesia
Young Buddhist Association (YBA) of Indonesia (Instagram)
Young Buddhist Association of Indonesia (Facebook)
Eri Cahyadi dan YBA Nyatakan Surabaya Kota Aman untuk Beribadah (Suarasurabaya.net)
Dirjen Bimas Buddha Bersama Walikota Hadiri Sanghadana Berita (Bimasbuddha Kemenag)
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