After two years of planning and construction, the Buddha Blessed Temple has been completed in a suburban area south of Louisville, in the US state of Kentucky. More than 600 people visited the temple on Sunday to celebrate its grand opening, which featured Vietnamese and Buddhist chanting, dance, songs, and traditional culinary offerings in a public event. The temple’s programs had been held in a nearby rented space beginning in 2006, led by Rev. Dr. Thich Hang Dat, a student of the Zen teacher Hsuan Hua in the Quy Nguong Zen Buddhist tradition.
The temple, which is surrounded by more than six hectares of land that it acquired three years ago, will offer regular programs on a weekly and seasonal schedule under the theme Changing Minds, Transforming Lives. Drone footage shows the arrival of guests at the temple.
Those present stressed the importance of the temple—not only for religious needs, but also for Vietnamese cultural continuity. Van Do, who attended the grand opening ceremony for the temple said, “Most of us, we migrated here in the early 90s,” referring to the Vietnamese people at the event. “We always miss our culture.“ (Wave 3 News)
Van Do told local reporters that he had been part of the Buddhist temple since he was a child and had witnessed the impact that being separated from their culture can have on children: “Kids grow up here, my kids among those, that they don’t know the culture, they don’t speak the language.” (Wave 3 News)
Also at the event was Alan Tran, 25, who said that he was excited about the temple opening. “A lot of people were losing their culture because there was no place to congregate. Now since we have this temple, we have a place where everyone can come together—the Asian community can come together—and keep the culture alive.” He said that the Buddhist practice requires, “Detachment from suffering, escaping cycle of rebirth,” and “recommitting to problems, [and] the way we do that is through knowledge.” (Wave 3 News)
Asked what the temple means to him and the community at large, Rev. Dr. Thich Hang Dat said, “It’s important for us to have this kind of center for our Buddhist communities, our spiritual communities. A center for us to come together to do the prayers, practice meditation, and study about Buddhism. And of course we like to share with other people about our tradition, especially the Buddhist mindfulness practice is so popular nowadays and so beneficial for people. To practice that kind of meditation practice so that they can have peace of mind and happiness in life.” He continued: “Everyone can come. We welcome every tradition.” (WHAS 11 News)
The temple’s teacher, Rev. Dr. Thich Hang Dat holds a master’s degree and a PhD in religious studies from the University of the West, California. He has taught university courses in Buddhism and Asian religions for the University of Houston, Texas, Indiana University, Southeast, Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus, and Indiana University South Bend. He has also taught Meditation 101 for students in Indiana and Kentucky since 2006.
Louisville’s Buddhist community celebrates opening of new temple (WDRB)
Grand opening of Buddhist temple in Iroquois neighborhood (Wave 3 News)
WHAS 11 News About The Grand Opening Celebration of Buddha Blessed Temple (YouTube)
Buddha Blessed Temple