Wednesday, August 21, 2013

VuLan Lunch with Students from TDT on Buddhist/Vietnamese Holiday


21-8-13 – VU LAN HOLIDAY TREAT ( A Buddhist experience). On Monday, 19-8-13 we taught our first class of the semester, but more about that later, and returned to our office to start putting together the materials for our Tuesday class. About 10:30 a student contacted our interpreter and asked if she would ask us about going to lunch with a group of our students. We were surprised and happy at the request and said sure, “Where are we going?” Vinh said that we should meet the students downstairs by the bus stop though we would walk to the restaurant which was just across the street from the campus. Vinh then told us that the students were inviting us because they would be celebrating Vu Lan, a Vietnamese Buddhist holiday that is set aside for honoring all ancestors and especially ones parents and our students wanted to honor us by hosting us for lunch at a Buddhist Pagoda.

What a turn of events this was. Instead of going back to our dorm room or the canteen to eat soup or sandwiches we were going to a Pagoda for a lunch honoring (grand)parents. At about noon we hurried down stairs to join the a group of about three or four women students who were waiting to walk us over to the Pagoda. Our group arrived in about five minutes and found that we were a part of a larger group of at least 12 students who were waiting for us. We had entered the building that seemed to be a restaurant from the front and we thought, how nice, a small place but plenty of room. Instead, the entire group were lead through another door and we now found ourselves in a larger room with several tables that were pulled together to provide us all with a seat. We were actually seated inside the Pagoda. It should be noted that almost all of the women in our group were dressed in pink and white ai dai very much the same as you see in the pictures accompanying the “Open Day” blog a few days ago. There are several TDT students who we learned are regular volunteers at the Pagoda helping to prepare and serve food. On most days we believe that the food is sold very inexpensively so it is a popular student eating spot.  The volunteers from the University wore a gray specific outfit that we were told identified them as volunteers working in the Buddhist Pagoda. Also present was a Buddhist Monk who welcomed us as guests and shook our hands and then the staff started serving us a several course vegetarian dinner centered around rice but with lots of different vegetables and fruit fixed to go with the rice. Around the interior of the Pagoda was art work illustrating the life and travels of the Buddha as well as several statues of the Buddha. At that Pagoda and at Pagodas all around the country food was being served for free to encourage the love and respect for ancestors and parents. To us this seemed to be a small and modest Pagoda with an open air restaurant and gardening.
PhotoThis photo and the one above are of art work on the campus of TDT.

The fragrance of incense was in the warm air swirling through the Pagoda and all in all it was a new and enjoyable experience for us to be a part of this with the students. When everyone left everyone gathered their shoes and guided by two students we navigated back across one helluva busy street.  

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