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Seven Days in (Buddhist) Los Angeles

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The City of Angels has far too much for Buddhists to do. May means Buddhist X-mas: The Buddha's birthday, great enlightenment (maha-bodhi), and final nirvana are all celebrated on the full-moon day in May.

With a growing number of Buddhist temples and communities, it is being celebrated in various cultural traditions throughout the month. (The Mahayana school celebrates the days over the year, but the older Theravada follows references in the sutras that point out the coincidence).

From May Day to Mother's Day to Labor Day, May is already busy on the American calendar. Add Asian American celebrations from Bangladeshi, Burmese, Cambodian, Indian, Indonesian, Laotian, Sri Lankan, and Thai communities (Theravada) to Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese (Mahayana/Zen) communities to Bhutanese, Nepalese, and Tibetan (Vajrayana) communities, Los Angeles is awash in saffron, yellow, red, white, and, blue.

Then there are the ordinary spiritual events that fill the week, protests, concerts, and pretty soon there's hardly time for work, family, and TV. The last Saturday in May marks the last two Vesak/2600th Buddha Festival celebrations in the Los Angeles area.
  • The California Bodhi Vihara (Indian Theravada from Chittagong, Bangladesh) is holding its opening ceremony in Long Beach with monks from many traditions, a Bodhi tree planting, exotic Thai and Cambodian dancers, and food galore.
  • Orange County's Sri Lankan community will close out the month with a 1,000 person strong showing at 6:30 pm in the relatively new Anaheim temple.
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