Author: Andrew Yang
On February 4, the Lunar New Year’s Eve, the International Buddhist Temple held an annual Dharma ceremony to celebrate the Year of the Pig. Altogether, over 5,000 guests prayed to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas for an auspicious New Year.
For over 30 years the Lunar New Year’s Eve has always seen a large, overnight celebration held here at the Temple, where the Sangha and large crowds of Buddhists and lay people together welcome the New Year and wish the best for all sentient beings.
In a New Year message, Venerable Guan Cheng, abbot of the Temple, prayed for peace, health, happiness and longevity to all families. He encouraged everyone to strive and achieve three important values of a worthy life: be a good person, be a happy person, and be a wise person.
Temperatures dipped below zero on the New Year’s Eve, but that did not chill the spirits of the crowds. After 9:00 pm, crowds began to assemble at the big incense burner in the middle of the courtyard and the various places of worship, making the atmosphere celebratory yet solemn.
By midnight, the Temple’s main Gracious Hall was fully packed with well-wishers, when the grand ceremony began. Both the sobering bell and drums sounded and participants prayed for the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to bless them in the New Year. Venerable Guan Cheng, in his New Year Message (see separate article), advised all, “At this auspicious moment, let us reflect on the true values of life”, pointing out that it is something Sakyamuni Buddha discusses frequently in the scriptures. In short, he urged everyone to do things in the New Year that help fulfill three fundamental values:
First, be a good person, and do not be a bad one.
Secondly, be happy, and do not be miserable.
Thirdly, be wise, as wisdom enables us to live a meaningful life.
Remarking that he had never found a person who does not want to be a good person, who does not want to be happy, or who does not want to be wise, the abbot reminded the audience that we need to not only talk about these three values, but also find ways to cultivate them.
At the Temple’s New Year celebrations, participants were not only treated to blessings and shared teachings, but also enjoyed praying and gift shopping. Besides, many took home auspicious messages such as “Let wisdom grow together with fortune” and “Good luck and gratifying happiness”. A team of dedicated volunteers and hired security guards and traffic controllers worked diligently throughout the chilly night, to ensure that the welcome party with its more than 5,000 participants was merry, orderly and safe.