The 15th South Sea Guanyin Cultural Festival, which began Nov 17 and ends Sunday, was held at Putuo Mountain, an island under the administration of Zhoushan in East China's Zhejiang province.
The festival began with a grand ceremony at the square in front of the South Sea Guanyin Statue, a 33-meter-high bronze statue that sits on the southeast corner of Putuo Mountain by the sea, with views the surrounding hills.
With the theme "Be Charitable and Taste Comfortable Life", the three-day festival will hold a series of activities, including a celebration for the 20th anniversary of the construction of the South Sea Guanyin Statue, forums, religious assemblies, a concert, an exhibition on Zen Master Yishan Yining, a lantern show and a light delivery event. During the light delivery event, lotus-shaped lanterns will be passed to the Bodhisattva statue by monks after prayers and ceremonies.
Putuo Mountain is on a 12.5-square-kilometer island with views of the ocean, temples, cliffs, caves and sandy shores. More than 20 tourism sites dot the mountain area, all related to Buddhist culture. The island is a district of Zhoushan, which is located in northeast Zhejiang province. It is regarded by some as one of the most peaceful places in China.
Weather in Putuo is humid year-round, with clear air that ranked second best in the Chinese mainland in the first half of this year. When residents in North China suffer from smog and haze they often go to Putuo to escape the pollution.
Putuo Mountain, owning to its fame as a "Buddhist Kingdom between Sea and Sky", is one of the four sacred Buddhist mountains in China, the others being Wutai Mountain in North China's Shanxi province, Jiuhua Mountain in East China's Anhui province and Emei Mountain in Southwest China's Sichuan province. But Putuo Mountain is the only Buddhist mountain on an island.
According to Buddhist legend, the Guanyin Bodhisattva, or Goddess of Mercy, brought Buddhist doctrines to the mountain more than 1,000 years ago, making the mountain a Buddha Kingdom. Serving as the home of the Guanyin Bodhisattva, the mountain has welcomed visitors for thousands of years. Historical records show that the earliest worshipers came to Putuo during the Qin Dynasty ( 221-206 BC ) .
Built and unveiled in 1997, the South Sea Guanyin Statue has become a must-see spot on the island.
Putuo is home to many temples and monasteries that attract monks and nuns from all over the country and abroad, who come to live and practice their religion. The mountain is the site of Puji Temple, Fayu Temple and Huiji Temple, which are the largest among more than 20 still-existing temples in China.
Buddhists from many areas, including the Chinese mainland, Taiwan and Hong Kong, as well as Malaysia and the Philippines, come to the mountain to seek blessings from Guanyin Bodhisattva. Every year on the 19th day of the second, sixth and ninth months of the Chinese lunar calendar, millions of people are welcomed to celebrate the birth of Guanyin. Up to October, nearly 8 million people had visited Putuo Mountain in 2017.
Putuo Mountain means a lot to Buddhists in Japan for the Zen Master Yisha Yining, who once was the abbot of Baotuo Temple ( the Puji Temple now ) in Putuo Mountain. Less well known than Master Jian Zhen, Master Yishan Yining also had made great contributions to Sino-Japanese cultural exchanges. Visiting Japan during the early Yuan Dynasty ( 1206-1368 ) as an envoy, he never came back and was received with high respect from the Japanese authorities and was appointed as abbot of temples in Kyoto. In 1317, he was confirmed as national Zen teacher after his death.
2017 also marks the 700th anniversary of Master Yishan Yining's death. A ceremony was held at the festival and there was an exhibition to commemorate his life.