Ruth writes: On July 6, 1935, the Dalai Lama, the religious head of Tibetan Buddhism, was born. His birthday is celebrated throughout the Tibetan world which includes Toronto. This is a good time to visit Tibetan temples here because a lot of activity is going on and you can get a glimpse of some of the customs of our Tibetan neighbours.
Last April, I dropped in unannounced at the Khagyu Monastery at 7 Laxton Avenue. This is down the street from Parkdale Collegiate in a largely Tibetan neighbourhood. My visit was during an earlier festival, the Saga Dawa, at a temple I hadn’t seen before – which is why I chose to go there that day. The temple is in a converted house. What made it exciting was the row of prayer wheels around the whole building. I’ve been to Tibet several times and always enjoyed walking around temples spinning prayer wheels along with long lines of Tibetans, at dawn or sunset. Tibetan temples are so big, it often took over an hour for one circumambulation.
Tibetans believe that each turn of a wheel sends prayers to heaven. When I joined them, I felt I was part of a local custom. The Tibetans seemed to appreciate our effort.
Last April, I found members of the Toronto Khagyu temple busily putting up prayer flags. They were burning barley in the back yard. It was like Tibet. The people there made me feel welcome. They were friendly and some spoke English.
I didn’t feel like an intruder. They invited me to prayers in a room upstairs. While the prayers were in Tibetan, I somehow knew that someone would translate for me later.
The shrine was full of Buddhas, a large picture of the Dalai Lama, and another one of Urgyen Trinley Dorje, the 17th Karmapa, head of the Karma Khagyu sect. http://www.ksdl.org/contact_us.php
Another temple to visit in Toronto is the Riwoche Tibetan Buddhist Temple at 28 Heintzman Street in the Junction. See: http://www.riwoche.com/
This weekend has other Tibetan events. A cultural show and meal is on at the Tibetan Cultural Centre also in honour of the Dalai Lama: http://www.tcccgc.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/10441009_775468515826740_307997028549912004_n.jpg
There are also events at Harbourfront. See: www.torontomulticulturalcalendar.com.
Please let us know what you experience if you go there.