The annual Thanksgiving celebration was held by The Arcadia Interfaith Action Group (AIAG) on the evening of November 22. Religious representatives gathered together from various faiths; including, Buddhism, Christianity, Catholicism, Hinduism, Judaism, Islam, Sikhism, Mormonism and Baha’ism. Nearly 50 people participated. Buddha’s Light Youth Symphony Orchestra was invited to perform in the celebration.
The event, held in the Santa Anita Church, officially started with Pastor Terry Keenan talking about the origin of Thanksgiving Day. Appropriately, the theme this year due to the pandemic was: "Giving Thanks for Being Connected Through Technology and for Those Who Made It Possible." The son of the Hindu representative, Ashwini, said one morning his father received news that his grandfather was critically ill. Thanks to technology, Ashwini’s father was able to honor travel restrictions due to the pandemic, avoid the threat of contracting COVID-19, and still lovingly connect to his dying father, through using online Zoom media. Face-to-face communication during this time was priceless.
After his speech, the representative of Buddhism, Ven. Hui Ze of Fo Guang Shan Hsi Lai Temple, played the video of this year's North America’s monastic recitation of the "Heart Sutra". Without the aid of modern technology, this cross-regional performance would be almost impossible. Religious representatives at the conference expressed their gratitude for the assistance of science and technology during the pandemic. The spread of the Dharma has been far-reaching. In the past, there were limitations. Now, with the internet, Dharma can reach every corner in the world! Undoubtedly, another door has opened for spreading religion.
In addition to performances by the Buddha’s Light Youth Symphony Orchestra, the Licata Brothers of the Baha’i Faith sang popular songs; such as, "You got a Friend" and "Fire" with guitar accompaniment.
During this season of gratitude, many seem to feel that although the two-year pandemic has brought isolation, suffering and inconvenience, they also realize this crisis is a turning point, and vitality and hope can be found.