TAIPEI (CNA) — The Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation on Sunday held its annual Buddha Day ceremony online for the first time, due to a government restriction on mass gatherings amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Tzu Chi usually observes the ceremonial bathing of Buddha on Mother’s Day, although the ceremony is traditionally marked on the eighth day of the fourth month on the Lunar calendar, which fell on April 30 this year.
This year, due to the government’s COVID-19 preventative regulations, Tzu Chi was forced to forego the massive gathering of worshipers in the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall square in Taipei.
Instead, the foundation chose to broadcast a ceremony at 7 a.m. on its Da Ai Television channel and website, featuring prayers by Buddhist monks and nuns in monasteries in Taipei and Hualien.
“I’m grateful that we’re here together,” Tzu Chi founder Master Cheng Yen said in the broadcast. “I’m very thankful for all the dharma masters from different schools of Buddhism, who have come together today to celebrate Buddha Day, as we face this pandemic.”
The bathing of Buddha ceremony was broadcast in nine different languages and streamed on the Da Ai website. Tzu Chi’s Buddha Day website, meanwhile, had 118,324 participants in the ceremony as of press time.
In late April, the Dharma Drum Mountain Buddhist group in New Taipei also set up a similar website, where worshipers could participate in prayers and the bathing of Buddha ceremony.