Buddhists Start Year Dolefully

Chris Echegaray, The Tampa Tribune, Jan 2, 2005

Tampa, FL(USA) -- An estimated 300 people attended Saturday's New Year's celebration at the Wat Mongkolratanaram of Florida, but the celebration was tinged with sadness as Tampa-area Buddhists also used the occasion to remember Dec. 26 tsunami victims.

Somsak Sakmanalit, treasurer of the Buddhist temple on Palm River Road, said Buddhists traditionally go to temples on Jan. 1 to give their offerings in order to start off a good new year. This year, monks knelt on mats, offering prayers for tsunami victims throughout South Asia.

Many temple visitors dropped off checks and cash to be sent for tsunami relief in Thailand.

Proceeds from food sold at the temple for the New Year's celebration also are bound for Thailand, along with money donated at six local Thai restaurants.