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O.C. RELIGION | ORANGE COUNTY FILE

First Buddhist Fire Ritual in U.S. Set for April in Yorba Linda

March 11, 2000|DEEPA BHARATH

About 5,000 people from all over the world are expected to attend a fire ritual at Yorba Linda's Shinnyo-En Buddhist temple on April 14 and 15.

The temple, built in 1989 on a 10-acre lot on Bastanchury Road, will be the first site in the United States for the ritual. The Sito Homa, a Buddhist bonfire ritual that originated in India, will be performed by priests from Tokyo, said Naruhiko Yoshida, the temple's caretaker.

The ritual will take place outside the temple and will last about two hours, he said. Priests will build a small bonfire with twigs, incense and melted butter in a ritual for seeking world peace.

Streets will be blocked off near the temple for much of the day to accommodate the crowds.

"This is done every year in Japan," Yoshida said. "But having it here will benefit a lot of people who live outside Japan." More than 1,000 Buddhists visit the temple every year from the Los Angeles and Orange County area, said Yoshida.

Shinnyo-En is a Japanese Buddhist organization that emerged early this century. This sect evolved from the last teaching of Buddha that emphasized the practice of truth and compassion. The group also has temples in Honolulu, Burlingame, Calif., San Francisco and White Plains, N.Y.

The Sito Homa will begin on both days at 11 a.m. Information: (714) 528-9387.

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