Young Harley watches kite-flying at British Columbia Insight Meditation Society's 2011 Vesak celebration in Vancouver, BC.
The British Columbia Insight Meditation Society (BCIMS) began its 2011 Vesak celebrations at a Vancouver park where families met with kites and bubbles.
The kite-flying attracted both people who are regular members of BCIMS and people who are not... four families with young children came to share the fun. The membership of BCIMS is primarily westerners who were not brought up in a Buddhist tradition so event planners were pleased that two of those families were ethnic Buddhists of South Asian origin. They were also joined by some young men from Iran who were keen to discover a Buddhist community that included festival and ritual.
Participants flew their kites and then had the children blow bubbles to signify the liberation of all beings: those imprisoned, those hungry and those afraid.
After the bubble ceremony, people went over to the church where BCIMS holds its regular sitting groups, sat in a circle of 40 people and took turns reading the story of the Buddha's birth, enlightenment and parinirvana. After chanting and sitting they took refuges and precepts, then did a metta meditation and dedication of merit before one of our youngest members blew out the candles on the "Buddha Cake" and everyone had a chance to visit and enjoy sangha.
“We feel that observing Buddhist rituals and festivals may end up being one way of building bridges between white convert-Buddhist communities and ethnically Buddhist communities,” says BCIMS teacher Adrianne Ross. “Everyone really enjoyed the event and we have plans for an even better celebration next year.”
For more information about the British Columbia Insight Meditation Society, please visit: www.bcims.org.
Contributor: Adrianne Ross.
Photo: Rachel Lewis.