Buddhists Bring Purification Rite to U.S.

April 22, 2007

Author: Yvonne Villarreal

Source: The Buddhist Channel/The Los Angeles Times


Los Angeles, CA (USA) -- Nearly 3,000 people, mostly Buddhists from around the world, gathered in Yorba Linda on Saturday to take part in a fiery 1,300-year-old purification ritual that organizers say has never been open to the public

The Shinnyo-en Order of Japan held the annual Saito Homa Fire Ritual Service at its temple in the 18000 block of Bastanchury Road instead of the usual site in Tokyo. "The rite's evolution toward becoming open ... has been a journey," the Rev. Mark Pinto, of Shinnyo-en USA, said of the ceremony, which adherents believe represents purification from things that dissuade one from moving forward in faith and goodness.

Organizers said it was the first time the rite had been open to outsiders and only the second time it had been performed in the United States.

"Prayer is powerful," Pinto said. "In opening the rite to all people, we envisioned prayer transcending boundaries and restrictions so that all people of diverse religions, ethnicities, and cultures could partake in the purity of nature."