- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 25, 2016

ANDERSON, Ind. (AP) - Traditional Buddhist chants echoed the bang of Taiko drums and cymbals Sunday, signaling the opening of Anderson’s new Buddhist temple, attracting followers from as far as Chicago, Ohio and California.

The Pho Minh Temple, 4100 Main St., is the ninth Buddhist temple in Indiana, and takes over the former Emmanuel United Methodist Church building.

The temple is named in honor of a Tran Dynasty temple in Vietnam. Several area Vietnamese families began working on the temple last year as part of an expansion of a California-based temple of the same name headed by the Rev. Anna Dao.

Sunday’s grand opening began with a traditional Lion Dance, where children dressed as two imposing paper lions, one bright red the other golden yellow, to ceremoniously scare away bad spirits. They were flanked by two other children wearing large Buddha heads and waving bamboo-thatched fans to welcome good fortune and solicit donations.

Several representatives of the California temple were on hand to welcome the temple, including Dao, who wished good luck on the congregation.

“This is a place for all Buddhist followers to come and practice their religion and to pray for peace and happiness,” Dao said, translated from Vietnamese. “This is a place for people who want to learn more about the world of Buddha with much joy, compassion, wisdom and enlightenment as well as meditation.”

State Sen. Tim Lanane was on hand for the event, saying: “Rev. Anna Dao said you are here to share: joy, compassion, wisdom and enlightenment and meditation. We need those things in this state.”

Anderson Mayor Thomas Broderick Jr. also spoke to the crowd inside the temple, saying he was happy to see diverse groups of people coming to the city.

“We are proud to be a community that welcomes others from all different places, and this is a great opportunity to get people to see you and get to know you and your temple,” he said.

There are approximately 650 Buddhists in Indiana, according to a Pew Research study, though Dao said she expected Buddhists from across the country to come to visit the temple.

Vietnamese Buddhism is not inherently different from traditional Indian Buddhism, though it does incorporate traditional Asian rituals, according to “Blueprint of Free Inquiry and Personal Verification,” a book handed out at the event explaining the temple’s beliefs.

There are seven tenets to the religion, according to the book: the assurance of free inquiry, salvation without a savior, freedom of expression, autonomy of moral judgment, right to dissent, free will and responsibility and personal verification.

Several members from the Buddhist Temple in Fort Wayne came to the opening, including Donna Ngo.

She said it’s important for Buddhists to support each other in fellowship, particularly at a new temple.

“When we see the temple we like to stop by and pray, and speak with each other,” she said.

The Pho Minh Temple includes a monastery for leading Buddhist figures to stay and meditate. The temple will also sell traditional Vietnamese vegetarian food to help support the cost.

James Morse lives across the street from the Pho Minh Temple and came to the grand opening to “see what they were doing.”

“They did such a beautiful job,” Morse said of the temple’s golden statues and ancient-looking architecture. “I think this is an asset in the community, for everyone.”

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Source: The (Anderson) Herald Bulletin, https://bit.ly/2e4LDqd

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Information from: The Herald Bulletin, https://www.theheraldbulletin.com

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