Biloxi temple to celebrate Buddha's birthday Sunday

By JOSHUA NORMAN, The Sun Herald, May 5, 2006

BILOXI, Mississippi (USA) -- Sunday is the 2,550th birthday of the Buddha, one of the holiest days in the Buddhist calendar. This year, the Chua Van Duc Vietnamese Buddhist Temple on Oak Street in Biloxi will hold a small celebration, open to the public, for Buddha's birthday.

The event will celebrate recovery and involve prayer for peace.

Guatama Buddha was believed to have been born around 563 B.C. in India, where he preached a system of shedding of material goods, general humility and charity that later flowered into the religion known as Buddhism.

The day of his birth is based on the Chinese calendar and varies from year to year.

Thich Nguyen Tri, the head monk at the Van Duc Temple, said the temple is seeking to hold a small, peaceful event and is eager for all his Point Cadet and Gulf Coast neighbors to attend.

Tri's temple had just had its grand opening the day before Hurricane Katrina, and the newly manicured grounds and building flooded with more than 10 feet of water.

Tri, a few other monks and several area Buddhists rode out the storm in the attic of the temple, and chanted and prayed as they watched the water rise just to the edge of the attic hatch before receding.

Countless volunteers have since restored the temple, and the only thing left is to wait for the Zen garden to flower again.

The Buddha's birthday celebration will begin Sunday with a discussion of the Buddha's teachings.

That will be followed by an hour-long celebration with music and other things, concluding with a light lunch.

If you go

The Chua Van Duc Buddhist Temple is at 179 Oak St. in Biloxi.
When: Sunday
Schedule: 10:15 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. - "Dharma Talks," a discussion of the Buddha's teachings
11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. - Celebrations begin
12:30 to 1 p.m. - Lunch