Saturday, May 28, 2011

30 Days in (Buddhist) Los Angeles

Wisdom Quarterly
(Sunciti Sundaram/

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.

200 Buddhist monks and nuns from 11 and culturally unique Buddhist countries assembled on the full-moon night of May 17th at Dhammakaya Los Angeles (universal Thai tradition) in Azusa to celebrate 2011 Vesak 2011, 2454 Buddhist Era (WQ).

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).

Brahma Vihara temple, Myanmar Progressive Buddhist Society, Azusa, Los Angeles (WQ)

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.

System of a Down storm L.A. Forum with socially conscious message, May 24, 2011 (WQ)

Then there are the ordinary spiritual events that fill the week, protests, concerts (System of a Down), 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.

2011 Buddha Day Festival (Buddha Purnima) on Saturday, May 28, California Bodhi Vihara, Long Beach, which included Cambodian and Thai dancers, Korean Mahayana Buddhist nuns, monks from many countries, food, and festivities (WQ).
  • 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.

Shavo and John from System of a Down (SOAD) visit Los Angeles radio station KROQ FM