2012 Interfaith Celebration

Celebration was the key concept that united the Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists who took part in the March 3, 2012 Interfaith Dialogue. Held once again at the University of the West in Rosemead, the afternoon event was attended by more than 150 participants who enjoyed song, chanting, prayer, and other rituals of worship performed by clergy and monastics, lay practitioners, and youth groups alike.

Hsi Lai Drum Troupe

Hsi Lai Drum Troupe

The program opened with an inspiring performance by Hsi Lai Temple’s Chinese Drum Troupe, whose piece, “Festival” was well suited to the mood and intent of the event. The upbeat melody appealed to all participants, captivating their attention and energizing them spiritually. A brief opening address by Venerable Hui Chi, Abbot of Hsi Lai Temple followed.

Rev. Shawn Kindorf and Dennis Bryan, playing the piano

Rev. Shawn Kindorf and Dennis Bryan, playing the piano

The first of five collaborative performances featured Reverend Shawn Kindorf and musician, Dennis Bryan of the Church of Religious Science. Entitled “How We Pray,” this delightful demonstration combined a medley of songs with spoken explanations that delineate both the philosophy of religious science and its place in the spiritual community.  Returning to our Interfaith event by popular demand, Reverend Kindorf communicates the heart-centered, wisdom-based philosophy that characterizes her religion with warmth, clarity, and enthusiasm.

Hindu Priest, Pundit Srikanthachar Tirumale Rangachar

Hindu Priest, Pundit Srikanthachar Tirumale Rangachar

The second performance featured Hindu Pundit Srikanthachar Tirumale Rangachar in a series of Sanscrit chants utilized for temple and home pujas.  Previously associated with Shri Mandir in San Diego, he is currently a priest at Sri Shiridi Sai Sansthan in Los Angeles. Refreshments were served following Performance #2 on the lovely patio outside the U West Auditorium.

Cantor Hazzan Paul Buch with his guitar

Cantor Hazzan Paul Buch with his guitar

With his talent for adapting traditional melodies in contemporary ways, Cantor Hazzan Paul Buch of Temple Beth Israel has been heralded as both “deeply spiritual” and a “cheerleader for God.”  He began Session Two with a vocal and guitar performance which involved the Interfaith audience in a fun and instructional sing-along. The infectious enthusiasm he generated comes from a wealth of diverse life experiences, including a 25 year career in television and film production.

Children from Islamic Education Center

Children from Islamic Education Center

Dr. Ahmad Sakr of the Islamic Education Center in Walnut, California is a frequent contributor to Interfaith activities sponsored by Hsi Lai Temple. This year’s performance featured several youngsters from his center who chanted portions of the Koran from memory. Dr. Sakr introduced and elaborated on each child’s contribution, providing insightful information and a “bridge of understanding” focused on commonalities that unite Muslims and non-Muslims.

Fo Guang Shan Hsi Lai Temple Chanting Group

Fo Guang Shan Hsi Lai Temple Chanting Group

The final performance of Session Two featured Hsi Lai Temple’s Chanting 201 Class. Chanters joined with several monastics to present the Great Vows of Kuan Yin (Avalokitesvara) Bodhisattva, granter of courage and comfort, who provides the ultimate example of love and compassion. Through chanting, Buddhist practitioners express and contemplate the great vows while strengthening their resolve to follow her example by helping those in need.

Mario & Company

Mario & Company

The Interfaith gathering closed with an original song composed and performed by Dharma students from Hsi Lai School and their teacher, Mario Cee. Their choral rendition of “The Karma Song” featured back-up by the 201 chanters, along with flute, piano, and guitar solos by the students themselves.

Dr. Sam C.S. Wu, president of the University of the West, offered thanks and parting remarks to all participants and a group photo was taken.

According to our exit surveys, a great day was had by all, with the Overall Event averaging 4.68 of 5.00 on a sliding scale. Other survey items which received particularly high ratings included Refreshments (4.72), Registration Process (4.73), Comfort of Venue (4.74), and Staff Support (4.92). As before, the many positive individual comments offered by participants sum up the day nicely:

  • Everything was perfect
  • Lovely event
  • Today has been a great day
  • Keep up the good work!
  • This was wonderful – thank you
  • I love everything
  • Keep it up!
  • Love everything
  • Thank you for a unique afternoon – transforming!
  • It was great
  • Good job
  • I really enjoyed the explanation of the music

…and our personal favorite:

  • Guacamole!