Temple celebrates new year

By JO TUAPAWA, Howick and Botany Times, Jan 21, 2009

East Tamaki, New Zealand -- THREE, two, one, Happy New Year once again - the Chinese new year is fast becoming a highlight on the calendar for all Kiwis, with magical firework displays, music and a riot of colour.

Everybody’s invited to this year’s celebrations at East Tamaki’s Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Temple.

As the long weekend approaches many people have a ‘to do list’ to catch up on, or may be leaving Auckland for anniversary day.

Either way, another ‘must do’

this holiday weekend is a visit to the Fo Guang Shan temple, for a free day of celebration, food, music, dance and entertainment.

“We will have food stalls, Buddhist art and a lion dance that marks the beginning of the new year,” says Annie Ng, a volunteer at Fo Guang Shan. The party will start around 10.30am on Monday and the temple is expecting about

5000 people to go along.

Ms Ng says it will be a day for the public to experience the temple’s facilities and enjoy its stunning architecture and surroundings.

“A lot of the local people who live in the area don’t know they can come here whenever they like,” she says. “We have a café, gift store and art gallery, people can enjoy the food stalls and if they want to they can go inside the main shrine.”

Traditionally, Chinese New Year festivities begin the night before.

 For those attending the temple this Chinese New Year’s Eve, their’s will be a quiet night.

Ms Ng says: “We light a candle or incense for the first prayer of the new year. It’s a very significant prayer.”

Fo Guang Shan is hosting a Chinese New Year’s Eve Dharma function on Sunday between 10pm and midnight.

Following tradition, although not compulsory, red clothing is usually worn on New Year’s Day along with a gift all children will adore.

“It’s Chinese tradition, parents give their children ang pau (red money packet), the children might wear some new clothes, usually red,” says Ms Ng. “Ang pau signifies prosperity for the new year.”

For more information regarding the Chinese New Year’s Eve Dharma function, call 274 4880. Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Temple is located at 16 Stamcombe Road, East Tamaki.