SGI Members in Scotland Stage "The Lotus and Thistle"
On October 21, 2007, at the City Halls in Glasgow, SGI in Scotland staged its first cultural festival, entitled "The Lotus and Thistle... A People's Celebration of Buddhism." One year before, Women's Division Leader Akemi Porteous had proposed such a celebration that would portray the spread of Buddhism from India, through China to Japan and then to Scotland. Some 1,000 people attended the festival, including special guest Professor Forbes Munro of Glasgow University.
The event commenced with the MC, wearing full Highland dress, welcoming everyone. SGI-UK General Director Robert Samuels then read a congratulatory message from SGI President Daisaku Ikeda, which was followed by a rousing performance of "Let's All Work Together" by the band.
The two-part show began with a "journey" mapping the historical path of Buddhism from its Indian origins through China and Japan then to the UK and Scotland. Each step featured a cultural presentation representative of each country and also showed the diversity of people who presently make up SGI in Scotland.
Part two presented the basic principles of Nichiren Buddhism and communicated the joy gained from practicing Buddhism through song, dance and poetry. The event culminated with a traditional Scottish dance piece expressing the marriage of Buddhism with local custom and culture. SGI members from throughout Scotland participated. The show also featured overhead projections and excerpts from the SGI introductory DVD Our Shared Humanity.
Flower bouquets were presented to the Japanese women who first brought Nichiren Buddhism to Scotland. As a result of their efforts to explain Buddhist principles and concepts through heart-to-heart dialogue, people now practice Nichiren's philosophy of Buddhist humanism throughout Scotland.
Professor Munro commented on how well the show was produced and that the SGI members' sheer enjoyment and pleasure shone throughout the event. First-time guests described the atmosphere as "buzzing, welcoming and engaging" and also said they learned more about Buddhism and the SGI.
[Adapted from an SGI-UK Scotland report and an article in the November 5, 2007 issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan]