As the Spring Lantern Festival symbolizes reunion, and in spite of the pandemic, SFYAD hosted an online get-together event on Feb 27th, titled Once Upon a Lantern - Make a Lantern, Share a Story. It gave everyone an opportunity to meet one another, share stories about the Lunar New Year, and spark creative energies in painting the lanterns.
In order to provide the Bay Area participants the convenience of celebrating the festival from the comfort of their own homes, the SFYAD volunteers meticulously prepared 110 packs of Lantern Decoration Kit. Each kit was packed with a lantern, painting materials, Chinese knot tassel, LED bulb, Venerable Master Hsing Yun’s Positive Forecasts For Life card, and an instructional booklet; and that every kit represented the SFYAD’s New Year blessings towards everyone. Inspired by their resolve to take up responsibilities, the SFYAD volunteers hand delivered the Lantern Decoration Kit to the homes of the participants living in the Bay Area.
On the day of the actual event, more than 45 BLIA members, friends and family joined online, with their ages ranging from as young as preschoolers up to as senior as at-home retirees. The event started off with lantern riddles as icebreakers, followed by story sharing from participants from different backgrounds and cultures; each of them eagerly described how the Lunar New Year was celebrated, as well as how this traditional festival was observed during this lockdown period.
The youth expressed their will to work hard and preserve this age-old tradition, whereas the elderly shared how they celebrated this year’s festivities differently despite not being able to meet with others in person. The highlight of the event was led by SFYAD’s president Selene Chew, where she guided the participants to paint a lotus flower on the lantern, and to assemble the lantern. Under her encouragement, the event participants painted a myriad of designs on the lanterns, such as a lotus flower blooming out of the mud unsullied, an ox that symbolizing possibilities of sweeping changes, a lovable sramanera, gold ingots and God of Fortune which stood for wealth, as well as the symbols of great health that everyone must have been paying close attention to.
A number of participants suggested that they gained a deeper understanding of the Chinese traditional culture, and at the same time reignited their bygone passion for handicraft arts. Rosaline Lau, the President of San Francisco Subchapter, expressed that the items packed within the Lantern Decoration Kit encapsulated the spirit of “Wisdom (Prajna), Benevolence (Compassion) and Courage (Bodhi Mind)”, and that the event was full of Dharma!
Both Venerables, Venerable Ru Yang, North California Fo Guang Shan Abbess and Venerable Chueshan, San Francisco YAD Advising Venerable propounded on the importance of a life of Perfect Harmony, encouraging everyone to kindle the lamp of the mind while designing the lanterns, so we can illuminate and disperse any dark clouds, and be invigorated with radiating light and strength.
Original Author: Qiulin Peng