On February 19th, the oversea Asians gather at temple to experience Chinese Lunar New Year celebration. Even though New Year was on the weekday, there were around thirty thousand people joined celebrating of the New Year. Different ethic groups wore their traditional outfits to offering light in the temple. A lot of devotees drove two hours to Hsi Lai Temple just for offering incense, offering light, prostrating to Buddha for attaining value treasure on happiness, health and wisdom.
Hsi Lai Temple’s New Year Activities started at 5 am in the morning, and a wave of people arrived temple around 4 am. With Venerable’s guidance, more than 300 devotees pilgrimage from the gate toward the main shrine and also attended the morning chanting.
In addition, in the morning and afternoon, there was Homage to Thousand Buddha Dharma Functions leaded by Abbot Hui Dong.
New Year Cultural Performance was held in the afternoon. Northern Shaolin martial arts performed dragon dance as the opening to bring the climax to the highest point. Abbot Hui Dong leaded Congressman Ed Royce, Congressman Judy Chu, LA County District Attorney Jackie Lacey, LA County Sheriff Jim McDonnell, LA County 4th District Senior Deputy Steve Napolitano and City of Walnut Councilmember Mary Su to greet happy new year to all participants and give out red envelopes to the dragon dancers.
Besides dragon dance, there were also Meilin dance team, Thailand dance, Hispanic dance and Hsi Lai Temple volunteers performed Fu (Prosperity), Lu (Status), Shou (Longevity) to celebrate the New Year. This activity let all Asians and American experienced unique Chinese New Year culture.
However, due to many people visiting the temple, Hsi Lai Temple collaborated with Los Angeles officers to directing traffic, and borrowed Hacienda school’s playground on La Subida Street to use as temporary parking lots. Opening from 8 am to 8 pm on the first day of the lunar year, there were more than thirty thousand visitors come for paying respect to Buddha and offering the light. To ensure the event go smoothly, it required approximately 500 volunteers to make this event successful. In addition, there were many game booths and traditional Asian cuisines booths (e.g. fried spring rolls, fried tofu, fried turnip cake, cold noodles, rice noodle soups, etc.) for visitors to experience the taste of different cultures.
Over the years, the lantern landscape at temple attracted visitors’ attentions. This year, the theme for word of wisdom is Auspicious Beginnings of Peace and Harmony. Near the gate, there is a pair of lion and elephant, which resembled wisdom and practice, respectively. There are also twelve cute sami (little monk) statues lay on the lawn. Next to Buddha path, there are four lawns, which resemble harmony. BLIA youth group also designed an interactive activity asking visitors to think of the meaning of harmony base on his or her own perspectives.
Interestingly, the most enticing landscape at the temple is three colorful goats representing Auspicious Beginnings of Peace and Harmony. To pray for the fortunate and prosperous New Year, visitors or devotees could offer light or make wishes under wishing tree to bring hope and harmony for the New Year.