New Years Almsgiving at Wat Greensboro

“Soke Dee Pi Mai…May you be blessed in the New Year” are the words that we exchange to one another on the New Year. And to some, a New Year signifies a new beginning, but a new beginning can be any day of the year in my opinion, we can start a new beginning when ever we are ready.

According to Buddha, “the secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.” This quote made me think of a quote from the movie Kung Fu Panda made by Oogway, “You are too concerned about what was and what will be. There is a saying: yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.”

This is so true, and present is what we’re living in, only you can bring yourself happiness like the Lord Buddha said “ Happiness comes when your work and words are of benefit to yourself and others” and “Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”

We had more turnout this year than last year, and Almsgiving on January 1st is a tradition that has passed down for generations and it’s a tradition amongst the Buddhist community, a tradition for Wat Greensboro of North Carolina.

My dad above, and my GI Joe sister’s photo below.

A young Buddhist worshiper.

I’ve been attending this temple for many years, and noticed that the Khmer give Alms with white rice and money, while the Laotians offer fruits, money, flowers, and non perishable food items.

However, the Laotians in Luang Prabang Laos give Alms with sticky rice only, they roll the sticky rice into small little ball and drop it into the Alms bowl.

This is not a surprise because there are about 14 Wat (Buddhist Temple) and over 300 monks in Luang Prabang.

I’ve seen the Mother Earth Goddess statue in many temples that I visited and often wonder what role she played in Buddhism, the statue below is at our local temple.

The one below is at an old Wat in Laos, I took this picture while I was visiting my aunt in Paksan.

Then when I saw this painting at our local temple, it got me even more curious. The painting depicts the Mother Earth Goddess ringing out her hair at the time of Buddha’s enlightenment.

The story told: After many years of searching and wandering, the Buddha sat down determined not to rise from his seat until he had attained enlightenment. As he sat, all the temptations of the world came to attempt to distract him; these distractions are called Mara. As he sat and contemplated, Mara mocked him, saying “You claim you are enlightened! Well who, then, will witness and testify to your enlightenment?” At this, the Buddha pointed a hand down to the earth, indicating that the Mother Earth Goddess would witness. The Mother Earth Goddess was washing her hair and as she wrung out her hair, the water from it overcame and swept Mara, with all his distractions, away, leaving behind the newly enlightened Buddha. Source.

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