By: Amy Chow
It's Chinese New Year's Eve and the bazaar is buzzing with activity. People are crowded around idyllic little booths selling trinkets, food and flowers. It's not unlike any other traditional Chinese bazaar at this time of year. However, it's not in China, it's in the heart of the GTA's very own Fo Guang Shan Temple of Toronto, located on Millcreek Drive in Mississauga.
"We see more than 10,000 people during our Chinese New Year activities in just the first two days," says Tracy Liu, a volunteer at the temple since 1997. "Every year we have a different theme, and this year it is ‘Heavenly Blessings and Protection.'"
Fo Guang Shan Temple of Toronto has seamlessly blended a series of events highlighting traditional Chinese culture and Buddhist customs. Dharma functions are interspersed with lively Lion and Dragon Dances. Blessings and offerings of incense are followed by the appearance of the God of Wealth distributing lucky Red Pockets.
There was even a naming ceremony to bestow Prime Minister Stephen Harper as well as Jason Kenney - the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism - with an official Chinese name.
The Chinese New Year Bazaar boasts not only food stations, an indoor flower market as well as a photo booth, but artful displays which include waterfalls, indoor gardens and a wishing well.
Much to Sergei Vorobiev and his family's delight, they stumbled upon this event by accident, "I heard the temple offers martial arts and other classes so I decided to pop by with my family. We didn't know that this was going on, but we decided to stay and enjoy the festivities. I am loving the food and this experience."
The Temple - a branch of the Fo Guan Shan Temple in Taiwan - was founded by Venerable Master Hsing Yun to promote Humanistic Buddhism. Since its inception in 1967, Fo Guang Shan has grown into an international organization. Through educational programs and cultural activities, Fo Guang Shan Temple of Toronto has fostered the growth of Humanistic Buddhism in this community.