124. Buddha’s Birthday in Toronto

Lanterns at Zen Buddhist Temple. Image©Ruth Lor Malloy 2011

The birthday of the Buddha is the 8th day of the fourth month on the lunar calendar. It is the most festive event for Buddhists. This year it’s his 2555th birthday, according to the Zen Buddhists. It is a good time to visit a Mahayana Buddhist temple because of special ceremonies and decorations. On the western calendar, the birthday is May 10 but celebrations are not necessarily on that day.

Temples are adorned with lanterns. In some temples, you can dedicate a lantern to yourself or someone else by hanging a slip of paper on a lantern. In Toronto’s Zen Buddhist Temple, this slip says “By virtue of this dedication, may you enjoy peace and happiness.” The lantern will be hung for one month to convey your wishes and prayer.

Image©Ruth Lor Malloy 2011

Each temple is different but all Buddhist temples require leaving your shoes at the door. The following are a few of Toronto’s many Buddhist Temples. Please tell us if you find one you’d recommend.

The Zen Buddhist Temple is celebrating the birthday on Saturday, May 7 with a public forum on “Marking Existence – from Buddhist Philosophy to Social Action” at 4pm. $5 donation. There’s a vegetarian feast at 6pm but it costs $20. On May 8, the events will be free: 10am religious service and contemplation on human life: 4pm talk and demonstration on meditation; 7:30pm lotus lantern lighting and chanting service. You could aim for the latter. This temple is at 297 College Street, west of Spadina Ave. Tel. 416-658-0137.

The Cham Shan Temple, which was founded in 1973, is celebrating on Tuesday, May 10. It will be open for prayers from 9:30am until 11:45am. Vegetarian food will be served in the evening but tickets are all sold out. This temple is at 7254 Bayview Avenue, Thornhill. Tel. 905-886-1522.

The Fo Guang Shan Temple is celebrating Sunday, May 15. From 11am-3pm there will be the Bathing of the Buddha and Veggie Food Fair (40 booths). There will also be temple tours of the main shrine, Buddhist Cultural Museum, and bookstore. You can watch a DVD presentation on Buddhist Tradition and Culture. Face painting for kids. It’s at 6525 Millcreek Drive in Mississauga. Telephone 905-814-0465. Web-site: www.fgs.ca . Map at: www.fgs.ca/english/contactus.html . E-mail : info@fgs.ca.

The Maha Vihara Buddhist Meditation Centre is celebrating on Saturday, May 14 with a program for adults in Sinhalese from 8:30am to 5pm. There will be a dharma talk and meditation. If you want to talk with an English speaker, look for a monk though many people there speak English. On Sunday, May 15, the program will be in English with lunch-time vegetarian food service for 500 people. All are welcome. This centre is at 4698 Kingston Road in Scarborough. Telephone 416-208-9276. http://www.torontomahavihara.com/Programs_Events.htm . See below Blog No. 5 Sri Lankan Robe Procession.

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