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Thứ Bảy, tháng 10 07, 2006

No. 1168 ( Minh Châu dịch)

Buddhist temple to get royal honor

Erin Zlomek
The Arizona Republic
Oct. 7, 2006 12:00 AM


After 15 years of rebuilding, a local Buddhist temple again may make headlines - but this time, without the shocking violence.

Wat Promkunaram temple in Waddell received worldwide attention in 1991 when six of its monks and three civilians were shot dead during a robbery. The killers positioned the bloody bodies in the form of a wagon wheel on the temple floor. At first, police classified the shootings as a hate crime.

Members of the temple, 17212 W. Maryland Ave., have left the nightmare behind. This weekend they will accept a special honor from the king of Thailand and host a series of cultural celebrations open to the public. advertisement




The celebrations revolve around the Thai Buddhist Lent period known as Tod Kratin. Buddhist Lent lasts roughly from August to October. On a day after the Lent period, usually in October or November, a prominent Thai family will present a temple's monks with a set of saffron robes made on a handloom. The robes are a gift to the monks in appreciation of their self-sacrifice during the Lent period.

The robe presentation ceremony is called Kathina.

"Initially, a monk's robes were meant as a sign of renunciation of the world and worldly possessions," said Kenneth Kraft, a Buddhist studies professor at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania.

Monks in various sects of Buddhism wear robes of a reddish-orange to orange-yellow color.

"Traditionally, it was the color that criminals were forced to wear. It represented the lowest of low in society. It is meant to be a humbling experience," Kraft said.

Today, the monks of Wat Promkunaram will receive handmade robes sent from the Thai royal family, a rare and special honor for a small American temple. The royal family sends the robes to a handful of temples worldwide each year. King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand selects temples based on community service, activity and efforts made to unify temple members.

The presentation ceremony doubles as a welcoming celebration.

"For Thai people, this is the first time the monks have come out of the temple for three months," said temple member Jena Sukitjanont. During Thai Lent, the monks must remain in seclusion to study and meditate.

To celebrate the Kathina ceremony, the temple will host live Thai music and dance on today. On Sunday, chanting, an offering ceremony and a Thai lunch will take place.

Across Thailand, the holiday is celebrated by huge festivals and live music.

http://www.azcentral.com/community/swvalley/articles/1007gl-nwvrobes06Z5.html