Buddhist celebration set

Plough Keepsie Journal, Apr. 29, 2012

Meditation, music, lunch set Saturday

Hudson Valley, USA -- There will be a celebration of Vesak, Buddhism’s holiest day, on Saturday 5 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Tsechen Kunchab Ling, Temple of All-Encompassing Great Compassion, 12 Edmunds Lane. The event is free.

<< Abbots of four Buddhist temples gather to plan celebration of the Buddha’s life. From left are the Venerable Gikwang Sunim from Wonkaksa, the venerable Khenpo Kalsang Gyaltsen from Tsechen Kunchab Ling, Brother Phap Vu of Blue Cliff Monastery and Venerable Xin-Xing from Dharma Seal Monastery. / Courtesy photo / Written by Journal staff

Vesak commemorates the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and passing more than 2,500 years ago in India. Since 1999, it has been recognized as a United Nations Day. Buddhist temples have come together for annual Vesak celebrations in major metropolitan areas in the United States such as New York City, Washington and Los Angeles. This will be the first time that Buddhists in the Hudson Valley have hosted a joint celebration to meditate together on their holiest day.

This year’s event was organized by four Buddhist temples from the Tibetan, Vietnamese, Chinese and Korean traditions. The organizing temples are Tsechen Kunchab Ling, a Tibetan Buddhist temple in Walden, Orange County; Dharma Seal Monastery, a Chinese Buddhist temple, also in Walden; Won Kak Sa, a Korean Buddhist temple in Salisbury Mills, Orange County; and Blue Cliff Monastery, a Buddhist temple established by Thich Nhat Hanh in Pine Bush, Orange County.

People are welcome to drop in throughout the day.

“In addition to the spiritual dimension, the program offers a unique and free opportunity to sample the art, music, dance, food and living culture of four different Asian countries, all in a single day right here in the Hudson Valley,” said the Rev. Chodrung-ma Kunga Chodron, a Buddhist nun at Tsechen Kunchab Ling who helped organize the event.

The program will begin with a colorful procession of Buddhists from many countries doing walking meditation around the new temple building. Inside, monks will perform chants in honor of the Buddha in their native languages.

Lunch will be a buffet of vegetarian food from all over Asia, with each participating temple sharing its ethnic cuisine. The afternoon program will include meditation and a talk by Buddhist scholar Venerable Bhikku Bodhi . It will also include a sacred Korean monastic dance expressing the search for truth, and videos of Vesak celebrations in other parts of the world.

“People of all faith traditions, and those of no particular tradition, are welcome to join the celebration,” said the Venerable Gikwang Sunim, abbot of the Korean Temple, Won Kak Sa. “Everyone agrees about the need for more happiness and compassion in the world.”

If you go

What: Vesak celebration commemorating the Buddha’s life, including walking meditation, chanting, lunch, talk, monastic dance and videos.
When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 5.
Where: Tsechen Kunchab Ling, 12 Edmunds Lane, Walden.
Call: 301-906-3378.
Email: hudsonvalleybuddhists@aol.com