Hundreds of bells ring out for Peace Day

  • Courtesy photo Winter and Danielle Smith-Castro, twins from Honokaa, are accompanied by sisters Katalina and Laila Lavaca of Waimea. On Sept. 21, at the Honokaa Hongwanji Buddhist Temple, they joined hundreds of others from Hawaii, the mainland and other countries for Peace Day on a Zoom-cast event.

Sept. 21 was officially Peace Day, and the Buddhist Temples of Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii hosted an international ringing of bells for peace, through the wonder of Zoom and Facebook Live.

Over 100 bell-ringers from Japan, Canada, Idaho, California, Washington, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Michigan, Kauai, Maui, Oahu and Big Island joined together virtually for “Ring Your Bell for Peace Day,” streamed live courtesy of KTUH-FM.

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The program also featured Hawaiian pule and oli, a live performance by Melveen Leed, and music by the Honolulu Gay Men’s Chorus.

Rene Mansho, chair of Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii’s Peace Day Committee, was emcee of the event, as well as one of its principal organizers.

“During this pandemic crisis, people need to heal, and to help one another,” Mansho said.

“We made the world a better place today because world religions and multi-cultures came together to promote mutual respect, love, and unity.”

Peace Day was established by the United Nations in 1981. In 2007, a group of young people from the United Federation of Junior Young Buddhist Associations successfully petitioned the legislature to also declare it as Peace Day in the state. Mansho said one of their goals was to acknowledge young people and recognize them as future peace-makers.

It is hoped that events like this will promote the adoption of Sept. 21 as Peace Day in other jurisdictions.

To highlight the youth, Kenji Suzuki, past president of the Federation JrYBA sounded the pu (conch shell) to open the ceremonies.

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Current JrYBA President Kana Suzuki spoke briefly about the origins of Peace Day in Hawaii, followed by a screening of Ohana Arts’ music video “Peace on Your Wings Reunion,” invoking the story of Hiroshima survivor Sadako Sasaki, who from age 2 to her death at age 10, folded over 1,000 origami cranes as she wished for world peace.

Because of the pandemic crisis, event organizers weren’t able to physically bring people together, but they did hope to help make the world a more harmonious place on Peace Day, by virtually connecting folks in the spirit of mutual respect and unity.

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