On May 4th, New Jersey Buddhist Culture Center and Buddha¡¦s Light International Association New Jersey Chapter invited Buddhist temples of Burma, Korea, Sri Lanka and Vietnam origin to celebrate Buddha¡¦s birthday and join the garden festival. Venerables and members of these temples provided blessing ceremony and donated their ethnic dishes for sales. In addition to vegetarian dishes, the festival also had floral arrangement exhibit, the Eight Stages of Buddha¡¦s Life exhibit and DIY bonsai.
In the garden festival, food items included popiah, pan fried dumplings, Malaysian laksa, Vietnamese noodles, Sri Lankan curry rolls, mushroom sauce and rice, hot and sour soup, Taiwanese sticky rice, as well as grass jelly, bubble tea, and Burmese desserts.
The "Buddhism and Flowers" exhibit in the dining hall showcased Ikenobo Ikebana, western arrangements, flowers in water and orchids. The combination of different styles, flowers, and material presented the harmony of nature. In the exhibit, there were also calligraphy of Venerable Master Hsing Yun. The DIY bonsai attracted a great many to try it out.
The Eight Stages of Buddha¡¦s Life Exhibit was next to the Zen Garden. At the entrance, vivid displays of Buddha¡¦s life welcomed the visitors. Seven lotuses along with the pictures of the Buddha from birth to Nirvana were next with explanations. There were also games for the everyone who participated. When completed, one could offer light to Buddha and pray.
Venerable U PyinNya ThiHa of America Burma Buddhist Association said that he was very glad to participate in this Buddhist festival. He also hoped that the celebration will continue in the future, so that the Buddhist groups could interact more. Korean Venerable Won Young praised the deliciousness of the food, and Venerable Sung Hyang said that he was honored to be part of this event. Vietnamese Venerables of Linh Son Buddhist Congregation visited the floral exhibition and took photos.
In the rain, Anita queued up to buy all kinds of food, enjoyed them in the tent, and then went to the floral and Buddha¡¦s Life exhibits. She considered the rain cleansed her body and mind. Although it was inconvenient, it was a special experience.
Asian New Year celebrations. Buddha¡¦s Light International Association New Jersey Chapter presented Chinese brush painting, calligraphy, paper-cutting, Chinese knotting and picture rubbings in the exhibits. BLIA also provided the visitors with the book, 365 Days for Travellers, red envelopes and hand-crafted lanterns.
Dr. Iveta Pirvago of Wheaton Arts and Cultural Center who has dedicated to various folk cultures for 20 years was very impressed by the programs provided by BLIA in the 2018 Chinese New Year Festival in South Plainfield. She invited BLIA as the partner of the Center's 2019 East Asian Culture and Art Series.
With the beat of the drum, the dragon and lion dance team opened the Asian New Year celebrations outside the exhibition hall attracting many visitors. Before the programs began, the organizer invited a Buddhist monk to chant for all. With his low and strong voice, the audience quieted down their mind and body. On the stage, performers from Cambodia, China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and other countries danced with their traditional costumes and music. The audience were amazed by the performances.
In the exhibition hall, in addition to the Chinese arts and crafts provided by BLIA, there were palaspas, eggshell mosaics, and baybayin writing from the Philippines, as well as Burmese weaving and Japanese origami. Eggshell mosaic artist Amor is a computer engineer from the Philippines. He developed his love for eggshell art and was taught the art by his mother and grandmother since childhood.
Rick Guariglia said that this Asian-style festival show combined different styles of art and music. Through the performances and displays, he gained more understanding of Asian culture and learned to appreciate its rich cultural heritage. Living in Princeton, he came with his daughter to experience picture rubbing, paper-cutting and Chinese knotting. As a Buddhist, he very much agreed with the concept of Humanistic Buddhism, especially the integration of Three Acts of Goodness in our daily life.
Frank Demario, who lives near the Wheaton Cultural Center, said that this year's Asian New Year celebrations was refreshing because people could directly participate in the experience. He once studied Chinese brush painting and was very happy to collect the peony painting from Chen Mei. Susan Gogan, the managing director of the center, praised the rich cultural diversity provided by BLIA. She loved the art of painting and she herself paints on ceramics.
During the performances, the crowds gathered around the exhibition halls incessantly. After the music and dance ended, the exhibits were even more packed. The visitors wore their own Chinese knots on their wrists carrying the prints as well as paper cutting with them. Children held red envelopes and chicken paper lanterns in their hands while sucking candy in their mouths. Visitors who love reading got a copy of "Dedicated to Travelers 365 Days". Everyone enjoyed the event greatly.