Religion Briefs

SE Asian Buddhists to celebrate holy day

Hawaii Buddhists from Southeast Asia will celebrate their most important holy day of the year next weekend with ceremonies at Oahu temples.

Visakha Puja Day, marking the three great events in the life of the Buddha, will be observed in ceremonies at temples attended by members of the Thai, Laotian and Vietnamese communities.

Members of the Theravada branch of Buddhism throughout the world mark the day of the full moon in the sixth lunar month each year as the day when the founder of Buddhism was born more than 2,600 years ago, the day he achieved enlightenment and the date he died or attained Nirvana.

Events for the holiday, also known as Wesak Day, are open to the public. They include:

» Saturday, June 5 at Wat Dhammavihara Hawaii, 87-1109 Iliili Road, Waianae. The program of rituals, preaching and meditation will begin at 10:30 a.m. and continue until 4 p.m. Call 668-7367 for information.

» Sunday, June 6 at Wat Buddhajakramongkolvararam, 872-A 2nd St., Pearl City. Formalities begin at 10 a.m. and continue until 3 p.m. Call 456-4176 for information.

The Waianae temple will offer a five-day Vipassana Meditation Retreat July 3-7. It will be led by Phra Raja Prommajarn, instructor at the International Meditation Institute and Vipassana director for northern Thailand, and Abbot Wat Phra Dhard Sri Chomthong of Chiangmai, Thailand. For reservation information, call 668-7367 or write to

Speaker to focus on Muslim beliefs

The religious beliefs that lead some Muslims to make suicide attackswill be discussed at a lecture Wednesday at the Punahou School Wo International Center Luke Auditorium.

The 7 p.m. lecture, "From Clash of Civilizations to Congruence: the Muslim Factor," is free and open to the public. It is sponsored by the Wo International Center in conjunction with the school's world religions class.

Speaker Saleem Ahmed said he will explore whether there are contradictions in the Quran that lead some to hatred of infidels and terrorist acts while other Muslims find their holy book a guide for lives of peace, piety and compassion.

Ahmed's views, published in his 2002 book "Beyond Veil and Holy War: Islamic Teachings and Muslim Practice with Biblical Comparisons," have raised criticism from others in the Honolulu Islamic community.

The lecture will also serve as the first session in a course on "Understanding Islam" being offered next month by the University of Hawaii Outreach College. Classes will continue on Wednesday evenings on the Manoa campus. For information, call the Outreach College office, 956-8400.

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