A Labor of Love: Meticulous and Beautiful Flower Arrangements for Buddha Bathing Ceremonies

National Headquarters  |  December 11, 2023
Volunteer Shu Fang Du (second from right) began planning and designing the flower arrangement for the bathing platform three weeks in advance and now leads the flower arrangement team to complete the project together. Photo/Shu Li Lo

Written by Shu Li Lo
Translated by H.B. Qin
Edited by Patrick McShane

When Tzu Chi USA National Headquarters announced that it would hold the second two-session English and bilingual Buddha Bathing Ceremony in 2023, the flower arrangement team knew they had a lot of preparation to do. Volunteer Shu Fang Du began planning, designing, and ordering flowers from the flower market for the bathing platform floral arrangement three weeks in advance. Some of the more unusual seasonal flowers had to be purchased in person at the flower market to ensure quality and freshness. She even cut the matching green branches from her own garden as a way to keep costs down.

After carefully choosing the most beautiful flowers, Shu Fang Du and the team of volunteers arranged and combined each blossom one by one. Shu Fang Du explained the details of the arrangement plans and highlighted specific flowers that should be given extra attention. She also reminded everyone that the key focus was beauty and visual appeal, and to achieve uniform beauty, the flowers need to be arranged such that they match from every angle. She often guided the team volunteers by the hands, using her expertise to get volunteers up to speed quickly. The volunteers lined the bathing platform with red flowers, green leaves, and white yarn. The arrangements were beautiful and solemn, evoking a natural reverence for the Buddha, and arousing the joy of the heart.

Blossoms of Love and Blessings

Volunteer Xiu Yun Cai arranges flowers with a devout heart, wishing peace and joy to people around the world. Photo/Shu Li Lo
Volunteer Shu Fang Du (first from right) explains the do's and don'ts of flower arranging to her teammates, and first takes a picture of the basic arrangement and flower pattern with her cell phone so that everyone can follow. Photo/Shu Li Lo

The flower arrangement team is dedicated to arranging the Buddha Bathing Ceremony altar with the most pious hearts. Each year when they plan the arrangement they hope to make a good connection with the congregation attending the ceremony through their beautiful design. Shu Fang Du shared, “This time, we chose the flamingo flower in particular, because the language of the flamingo flower is passion, which means that Tzu Chi volunteers’ love spreads all over the world. The flowers will be available for people to purchase and bring home after the ceremony, or to give as gifts to others or to their parents, which would be extra meaningful.”

Veteran volunteer Xiu Yun Cai shared her insight while arranging flowers for the altar: “Today, we are arranging flowers with a pious heart, and tomorrow and the day after tomorrow will be the Global Tzu Chi Day, Buddha’s Birthday, and Mother’s Day, which is a day to give thanks to parents. So we pray for people all over the world with peace and security every minute, every second with a grateful heart. We make flower offerings to the Buddha because flowers in full bloom make people happy, and it is also a way to make connections with all living beings.”

Arranging flowers is a way to calm the mind and gain enlightenment. Photo/Shu Li Lo

Hui Ting Kang, a student in the flower arranging class at the Continuing Education Center, has been arranging flowers at Tzu Chi events for years. “The Buddha Bathing Ceremony is a very special day, and arranging flowers is a good way to honor the Buddha. It’s also very meaningful. I love this event so much that I come every year despite any difficulties; I also love flower arrangement and hope that more people will participate and understand the significance of the Buddha Bathing Ceremony,” she said.

The flowers used in the offering are especially meaningful. When people see the flowers, they feel happy and calm, and their hearts become more beautiful.

Purity in The Heart; Beauty and Kindness in The Mind

Jia Zhu Luo is also a flower arrangement fan. “Arranging flowers here is like coming home, and it’s really nice to celebrate Buddha’s Birthday, Tzu Chi Day, and Mother’s Day together. When I am arranging flowers, I can calm my mind, and during the process, it seems that I can realize something in my mind. The flowers are gorgeous and pretty; we use the most beautiful flowers to offer to the Buddha, and we also hope that everyone’s mood will become beautiful when they see these flowers.”

The beautiful flowers have an effect far beyond simply decorating and solemnizing the altar, they make people’s hearts happy. Pure, soft, and beautiful flowers are offered to the Buddha, representing each person’s pious and respectful heart. With a pure heart and beauty and kindness in mind, all things in the world will be beautiful.

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