Community Friendship Festivals Held Throughout Taiwan
On May 20, 2007, Taiwan Soka Association (TSA) concluded a series of community festivals held throughout Taiwan focusing on children's happiness. In recent years, domestic violence, child abuse, and bullying at schools have become increasingly prevalent in Taiwanese society. Furthermore, stories of children suffering from poverty, living as refugees and dying as a result of conflicts in many parts of world constantly appear in the news. Educator and first Soka Gakkai President Tsunesaburo Makiguchi's (1871-1944) pedagogy is based on the happiness of children and SGI President Daisaku Ikeda has called for building a "society for education." In response to incidents in Taiwan and abroad and to reply to Mr. Ikeda's call to action, from April 22 through May 20, 2007, TSA's 138 local chapters held 139 Community Friendship Culture Festivals throughout the country. The festivals were conceived with an aim of raising awareness of the importance of children's happiness, disseminating the humanistic ideal of value creation and ultimately contributing to building a society where children can live freely and happily.
While each festival was created to capture each locale's unique culture, the centerpiece was the SGI exhibition titled, "Building a Culture of Peace for the Children of the World." Every event garnered either support or endorsements for the exhibit by local governments. At the May 6 Community Friendship Festival in Tucheng, Taipei, along with the exhibit, numerous activities were organized around themes of value creation, culture and education, with many local organizations participating. The value creation component included a presentation on the SGI, TSA and the history of Taiwanese art over the past century. The culture program included exhibitions, presentations and performances on indigenous culture, art and music as well as a calligraphy demonstration. Healthy living talks by local doctors and health professionals, fire and earthquake safety forums put on by firefighters and a clearinghouse on environmental protection activities made up the education component. The festival also featured performances by the TSA boys and girls group, junior and senior high school students, and senior citizens group along with performances by cultural groups from local schools. The 90-minute show included games, sing-a-longs and concluded with all performers singing "The Wings of Peace."
TSA members actively promoted the Community Friendship Festivals. Each TSA chapter sponsored at least 5,000 to attend its local event, with some chapters promoting as many as 50,000 friends and community residents. Venues for almost all the festivals were schools, ranging from elementary to university campuses.
Through this large event that took place on a grassroots level and drew 3.23 million people, or 14% of the population, TSA widely spread understanding of the SGI's ideals and activities for peace, culture and education, based on humanism and respect for the dignity of life. Communities responded quite favorably, presenting award and certificates of appreciation to the SGI and to SGI President Daisaku Ikeda.
[Adapted from TSA reports and an article in the May 23, 2007 issue of Harmony News, Taiwan Soka Association]