REGINA — It was loud, colourful and happy, and tables overflowed with traditional foods as Regina’s Buddhist community gathered April 12 for the first day of a three-day New Year celebration. The auditorium in the l’Association Canadienne-Française de Regina required extra chairs to accommodate the more than 150 who attended.
Buddhist communities in other countries celebrate New Year at different times of the year, usually January or later, but Dr. Chirangib Talukdar, president of the Jumma Buddhist Association of Saskatchewan, explained that the Buddhist community here always celebrates New Year in the second week of April.
“We have cultural shows and exquisite cuisine,” said Talukdar.
It seems almost every Buddhist family brought food, as the food table at the back of the auditorium wasn’t large enough to hold it all.
Guests were greeted at the building entrance by young men and women in traditional dress, who escorted each guest to the auditorium and ensured they were seated. Guests included Regina Archbishop Daniel Bohan, Saskatchewan Minister of Parks, Culture and Recreation Mark Docherty representing the provincial government, Regina Mayor Michael Fougere and Police Chief Troy Hagen.
The celebration began with Buddhist monk Rev. Uttan Barua of the Jumma Buddhist Community offering a blessing and a few words of welcome. He approached a floral decorated table on stage featuring a small Buddha in the centre, with folded hands offered a prayer, then poured a small container of water over the Buddha, a purification ritual.
He was followed by Bohan, who offered a prayer and expressed his appreciation for the diversity and culture the Buddhist community brings to Regina. Other invited guests followed with words of appreciation for the Buddhist community and what it brings to Regina.
Following the official greetings, it was time for the food, which was plentiful and delicious. Appetites satisfied, the cultural entertainment began with various dance groups, young and not so young, performing to traditional music.
Barua said there about 150 Theravada Buddhist families in the Regina area. There is no temple in Regina but the community uses the Jumma Buddhist Community Centre of Canada at Fort Qu’Appelle about 70 km northeast of Regina in the Qu’Appelle Valley. Baru said Theravada Buddhists come mainly from Burma, also known as Myanmar. Talukdar said many Buddhists from Bangladesh are also in the Regina community.