On February 11, 2021, Fo Guang Shan Temple of Toronto and the Toronto chapter of the Buddha’s Light International Association held an online Chinese Spring Festival celebration. The event, held on Chinese New Year’s Eve, featured dazzling and diverse content for devotees celebrating the Year of the Ox. The Festival was held virtually in accordance with Ontario’s stay at home order and Venerable Master Hsing Yun’s guideline for “Dharma propagation through technology”.
The celebration was a joint effort of many Fo Guang Shan members in Toronto. Volunteers meticulously designed virtual interactive sessions exhibiting Buddhist traditions and folk customs for celebrating the Lunar New Year. Prime Minister Trudeau, government representatives, and community charity leaders sent video greetings, adding to the festive atmosphere. The theme of the evening echoed Venerable Master Hsing Yun’s Spring Festival Dharma words: “Cultivate a Heart that Blooms in All Seasons,” encouraging everyone to diligently cultivate a heart that blooms the flower of wisdom.
The event began at 8 p.m. on Lunar New Year’s Eve with the first Dharma service of the New Year. During the service, Venerable Abbess Chueh Fan said that praying homage to all Buddhas is a great opportunity to reflect on the past year and wish a new beginning for the upcoming one. Two thousand “Auspicious Bags” and four thousand “Red Envelope” offerings were displayed in the Main Shrine to symbolize everyone’s presence during the Dharma Service.
The Spring Celebration began after the Dharma Service, hosted by over 20 MCs. Segments included a performance of Festival Drums, songs from “Sounds of the Human World”, a Dragon Dance, Festival flower arranging, displays of traditional New Year’s food, a Paper Cut art exhibition by artist Huilan Gao, and other Spring Festival traditions.
The program also included Toronto Fo Guang Shan Venerables offering the first incense of the New Year, ringing the New Year’s bell, and teaching the “Seven Kinds of Spiritual Wealth”. Other highlights were pre-recorded New Year’s speeches by Venerable Master Hsing Yun, Founder of Fo Guang Shan, and Venerable Hsin Bau, Abbot of Fo Guang Shan. The celebration reached its most exciting moment at midnight with everyone counting down to welcome the Year of the Ox.
In addition to the online program, the hallways, stairs, and gardens in front of the Toronto Temple had been decorated with festive lights and Year of the Ox ornaments. The beautiful decorations are meant not only to embody the joy of the Lunar New Year but also to deliver peace and blessings. May the decorations light up our hearts and bring us a promising future.