Saturday, January 15, 2005

Buddhist Cultural Festival

I had a wonderful day today at the Buddhist cultural festival. I spent about 4 hours on a stall for my local Buddhist Centre; handing out fliers; selling books, incense and prayer beads; talking to lots of people, and getting sun burned (despite the factor 30!). The crowds were quite good, especially given the baking sun and searing heat.

This morning was quite cool and overcast, and I thought for a while that the weather forcasters had once again gotten it wrong. No such luck, by lunchtime there wasn't hardly a cloud to be seen and the mercury was rising. Tumbalong park only has shade around the perimeter and so, except for the oasis of shade inside each stall, it was hot and bright.

Some of the stalls from the different Buddhist centers around Sydney. Tumbalong Park, Darling Harbour. 15th January, 2005.

Late in the morning monks and nuns from the different Buddhist traditions offered prayers, with a particular focus on prayers for all those sentient beings (human and animal) who lost their lives in the Tsunami disaster. Many other groups perfomed dances, songs and other cultural presentations, and dignitaries made speaches throughout the afternoon.

Theravadan monks of the Thai forest tradition perform prayers. 15th January, 2005.

A Korean nun performs prayers. 15th January, 2005.

Vietnamese monks performing prayers. 15th January, 2005.

The day had many highlights, not least of which was the kindness and respect that the general public showed towards all of the different cultural and religious groups represented. The generosity of people was noteworthy too, with one lady slipping a $50 note into our collection box for Tsunami relief. The tragedy was personalised for me by a lady who was discussing with me that she would be finding a centre to say prayers tomorrow for the Tsunami victims, in particular for her closest friend of 28 years who was killed on a beach in Thailand. A poignant reminder of how close the disaster was for many Australians and a sad moment in an otherwise happy day.

Theravadan monks at Tumbalong Park, Darling Harbour. 15th January, 2005.

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