SIOUX CITY | Nearly 200 people sang, danced, chanted and reflected to celebrate Buddha’s 2,557th birthday during a service at the Pho Mon Buddhist Temple of Siouxland Sunday.
Some visitors came to Sioux City from as far away as Chicago, Des Moines and Springfield, Mo., for Sunday’s celebration, which is among many going on throughout the world this month. Some Sioux City residents will also travel to temples elsewhere in the Midwest as celebrations continue.
For all in attendance Sunday, the service was a chance to honor the founder of Buddhism. Buddha, who was born in a garden in Lumbini, Nepal, was originally named Siddhartha Gautama.
“This is the day to celebrate the birth of our Buddha,” said Alan Nguyen, of Iowa City. “It’s a time to think and to look at Buddha’s work.”
Sunday’s service also included a fundraiser to ship a Buddha statue from Vietnam to the Sioux City temple.
Temple youth leader Jade Nguyen said about $50,000 is needed.
During the service, visitors pledged a donation and then asked for the Venerable Thic Giac Minh, of Wichita, Kan., to write a poem or prayer for family members in calligraphy.
Jade Nguyen said the celebration was a chance to reflect on Buddha’s lessons, his life of poverty and quest to understand suffering.
Nguyen added that it was important to note that Buddha is not worshipped as a god.
“He came here to help people,” she said. “He was a human being, he was born.”
Sunday’s service also included song and dance recitals by children, chanting and a Dharma talk, which is similar to a sermon.
Alan Nguyen said Buddha’s birthday has always been important to him since his faith plays a key roll in his life. Nguyen added that faith was instrumental in giving him strength, especially when it came to getting into medical school.
It’s also provided the foundation to other elements of his life.
“Believing in him gives me faith and it gives me strength to be a better person,” Alan Nguyen said. “It gives me the strength to get through life, so I come here to celebrate.”