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2008 Buddha’s Birthday Celebration in New York
The Sangha Association of Korean American Sangha in East Coast (미동부승가회: President Ven. Dobum Sunim) and the Korean Buddhist Association of Greater New York (뉴욕불교 사원 연합회: President Ven. Won Young Sunim) held their annual meeting to celebrate the 2,552th birthday of Sakyamuni Buddha at La Guardia Community College Performing Art Center in New York on May 4, 2008.
Korean Sunims representing 20 eastern American temples and about 700 lay Buddhists from the states of New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania attended the celebration ceremony. The celebration consisted of the traditional birthday rituals of the Buddha, the Dharma talks and the performances of monks and lay Buddhists such as chanting, dancing and singing. The meeting began with celebration music performed by the chorus of Bulkwang Seon Center . Ven. Gikwang Sunim (Won Gak Sa Temple in New York ) initiated the Buddhist ceremonial services as the verger. Neung Won Sunim ( Bulkwang Seon Center ) performed big drums with solemn and impressive movements. Seong Hyang Sunim at Won-Jeok Sa offered sounding the Buddhist bell. The Ven. Hui Kwang Sunim ( Bulkwang Seon Center ) recited a short supplication followed by recitation of the seven prayers, the name of Sakyamuni Buddha and Heart Sutra by the entire assembly in unison.
The main ceremony started with the Three Refugees.
The President of Korean Association of New York, Mr. Sae Mok Lee, offered his celebration speech. The Supreme Patriarch of Jogye Order oKorean Buddhism, Ven. Beop Jeon Sunim, offered his dharma speech that was addressed by the Ven. Won Young Sunim. He urged the Buddhists to find Buddhahood within, not without, on the Buddha’s Birthday.
Ven. Dobum Sunim said to the assembled Buddhists, “Just be autonomous and confident wherever you are, and right there is true realization. Act when you need to, without further hesitation or doubt.” The combined choruses of Bulkwang Seon Center and Hanmaum Seon Center closed the main ceremony by singing beautiful celebration hymns (conductor: Mr. Hyun Seung Sohn).
The last part consisted of performances by Korean folk artists. The Korean Traditional Drum Performance Group (conductor: Chun Seung Lee) fascinated the audience with the fantastic performances of many drums, sahmul-nori, and sul-Jang-gu. The special performer of the day, Mr. Sa Ick Chang 장사익 from , sang the nostalgic old folk and pop songs including 찔레꽃 with the sounds of soul despite his poor health. The entire audience gave enthusiastic applauses.
The Korean Buddhist Association of greater New York (뉴욕지구 한인불교신도회: President Mr. Jung Kwang Kim) offered the praising conclusion remarks that this year’ event was a quite success in attracting non-Buddhists as the audience due to the great efforts of the Preparation Committee.
May 14, 2008 / Reported by True Enlightenment