Monday, October 10, 2011

A Day at Buddhist Temple

On Saturday night Bev Korasack (one of the hosts of Sieng Lao Radio) took me to my first Lao function, a wedding. It was a truly wonderful experience and a magnificent opportunity to immerse myself in and learn more about Lao culture. I was introduced to and participated in my first baci ceremony and had the honour of tying white string around the wrists of the groom and the bride. There was lots of delicious food to eat. Later that evening, I had some fun learning how to dance Laotian style.

On Sunday I spent part of my day at Wat Lao Toronto, a Buddhist temple situated in the northwest end of Toronto. This was a great opportunity to experience another aspect of Lao culture.

Gathered around a ceremonial meal, from left to right, are: Khamla Phandanouvong (visiting from Vientiane, the capitol of Laos, and involved in her own humanitarian cause); Roland Drake; Sengdao, Bev Korasack, Khamkeut Keovongsa, and Khanty (Sieng Lao Radio hosts); and Chieow and Tex Sihachack.

The bowls we are holding contained offerings of food for the monks presiding at the ceremony.

Bev Korasack, Khamkeut Keovongsa, and Roland Drake standing beside a money tree.

Posing with the hosts of Sieng Lao Radio.

Khamkeut invited me to address the congregation and introduce them to Adopt a Village in Laos. As I spoke, she translated for me.

Some samples of sumptuous Lao cuisine.

To conclude the ceremony, the monk moved through the crowd and offered his blessings by splashing water on the congregation.

Before leaving the temple, I had the elder monk tie this string bracelet around my wrist. The bracelet basically symbolizes good luck.

With the ceremony finished, I was invited by Viengkham Khammongkhoune, a long time friend of Bev Korasack, to her family home. Sitting in their beautiful and tranquil backyard, we discussed more about the work of Adopt a Village in Laos and how the Lao community of Toronto could get involved. I also took time to show her the two videos: The Dark Days of Laos, my contribution revealing the secret bombing of Laos, and Adopt a Village in Laos, Ted Amsden's contribution showcasing the work of this organization with the hill tribes, both of which were presented at the fundraiser at the Capitol Theatre last month. She was very impressed, deeply moved, and extremely grateful.

In all, this weekend was amazing because of a series of small breakthroughs to raise awareness and making connections with people.

1 comment:

  1. Great Lao Thanksgiving weekend for Roland to come and learn how Lao people in Toronto and a broad keeping their own tradition and culture even they had lost home land once.