On Saturday, July 21st, the International Buddhist Society held its annual Senior’s Day celebration. The event is highly anticipated by everyone each year, especially the thousands of seniors who bring their friends and family for a day of fun and relaxation. In the weeks prior, all individuals above the age of 65 received complimentary tickets at the temple for the celebration. While the event welcomed visitors of all ages, the seniors’ tickets were redeemable for gift bags full of Chinese foods and snacks, and practical items such as scarves and knit caps. The ticket stubs were then used in the drawing for a great number of prizes.
The day began with a large group of seniors gathering in the Main Gracious Hall with the Sangha for a prayer service. Others gathered in eager anticipation before the Meditation Hall, where large tents were set up for food and entertainment. The abbot arranged for a vocal choir, accompanied by music and a keyboardist, to perform pieces for the visitors. Afterwards, the microphone was open to anyone who wished to participate, in true karaoke fashion. The Venerable Guan Cheng himself graced the stage at one point and shared his voice with the audience, who responded to his earnest song with warm applause. Visitors continued to brave the spotlight, and music could be heard throughout the temple grounds all afternoon.
Around 100 temple staff and kind volunteers worked to create an enjoyable and memorable experience for all. They prepared healthy lunchboxes packed with an assortment of delicious Chinese vegetarian cuisine, ranging from tofu and vegetables, to spring rolls, to steamed buns. The meal was followed by a sweet tofu dessert. Lunch was free of charge for all seniors.
Visitors entering the temple that day also admired the stone sculptures set near the garden entrance. The stones were carefully mounted upon simple, elegant stands, and were painstakingly carved out of different, rare minerals to mimic mountains. Each was accentuated with one or two detailed miniatures to emphasize the solemn grandeur of a Chinese mountain landscape. The decorative rock bonsai, or miniature potted arrangements, were contributed by a gracious donor, along with graceful bamboo plants. The collection, as well as miniature orange trees, was displayed in the main courtyard, with sales proceeds going to the general temple fund. The fund enables the Society to continue providing educational, spiritual, and charitable services to the world, as well as hosting events like Senior’s Day festivities, which engage the community and bring together people from afar.
While sculptures seem to be everlasting, they are impermanent like all worldly matter. They serve as reminders of the senior citizens whose presence may be taken for granted, and whose wealth of life experience – like precious minerals – makes them the treasures of society. By celebrating Senior’s Day, the International Buddhist Society is not only honouring the wisdom of the elderly and the lives they lead, but also recognizing the life and spirit still thriving within them.