Tags Posts tagged with "Lunar New Year"

Lunar New Year

Lunar New Year 2023. Photo from TOB

On January 29, the Asian American Association of Greater Stony Brook (AAAGSB), in collaboration with the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander Advisory Board (AANHPI), hosted an event to celebrate the Lunar New Year at Brookhaven Town Hall which included a Lunar New Year and the Year of the Rabbit-themed art show. During the event, the artists were presented with Certificates of Congratulations those whose artwork received special recognition.

The event was attended by Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine, Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich, Councilman Neil Foley and Town Clerk Kevin LaValle.

“The Town of Brookhaven was happy to host a Lunar New Year Celebration for the year of the rabbit. I want to thank the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander Advisory Board (AANHPI) for their hard work in putting this celebration together. Brookhaven Town is a mosaic of many ethnic and cultural groups and the AANHPI is one of the fastest growing in Brookhaven Town that adds to our diversity. We look forward to having this celebration every year,” said Supervisor Ed Romaine.

“It was very meaningful to host this exciting event at Town Hall. The rabbit is often associated with growth and creativity, and it reminds me of how our local Asian community has grown in size and in creative confidence along with this event. We started the Lunar New Year event two years ago online, and it has grown and moved each year since then into bigger and better venues. I especially want to encourage our artists to keep up their important work in moving people’s hearts and minds in ways that the printed or spoken words cannot do. I would also like to thank the Asian American Association of Greater Stony Brook (AAAGSB,) the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander Advisory Board (AANHPI) as well as my staff for working so hard to pull this event together,” said Councilmember Kornreich.

Councilmember Foley said, “The Asian-American and Pacific Islander community is one of the fastest growing in the region and the Lunar New Year exhibit at Town Hall was a great example of their contribution to our local art and culture. Brookhaven Town is a great melting pot, and everybody plays a role in making it a better place to live. I congratulate and thank the Asian American Association of Greater Stony Brook, and the Asian American, Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander Advisory Board for bringing this exhibit to Town Hall.

“This Lunar New Year celebration was one of the first events I had the opportunity to attend as the Brookhaven Town Clerk. I was impressed by the creativity and passion that the artists showed through their artwork, and I was glad to see it displayed here in Brookhaven Town Hall. Congratulations to all of the award recipients and thank you to the Asian American Association of Greater Stony Brook, the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander Advisory Board, and my colleague, Councilmember Kornreich, for hosting this event,” added Town Clerk Kevin LaValle.

Laughter and music filled the halls of the Chùa Từ Tâm Buddhist temple along Terryville Road, Port Jefferson Station on Sunday, Jan. 8, during the Lunar New Year celebration.

In a two-week festival, dozens of the Vietnamese and Buddhist communities rang in the new year together. Marking this festive occasion, members of the temple dressed in their finest ceremonial garbs. Many performed traditional songs. Others prepared and served authentic Vietnamese cuisine to those in attendance.

Steven Tang is an executive member at Chùa Từ Tâm, the first Vietnamese Buddhist center on Long Island. He described the Vietnamese New Year as “very similar” to Chinese New Year and other Asian new year traditions, with some select caveats.

“We celebrate a little bit differently, with more focus on the family gathering,” he said. Tang chronicled the two-year history of the temple. After its acquisition in 2020, he said the temple’s leadership has gradually expanded its activities. 

Town of Brookhaven Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook) participated in the celebration. In an interview, he said he has closely followed the development of the temple.

“It’s just a sign of the growing size, strength and health of the Asian community here,” he said.

Reflecting upon American history, Kornreich commented on the need to espouse Vietnamese Americans, many of whom supported the American war effort during the Vietnam War.

“I think that people should know that when you’re a friend of America, that means something to us,” the councilmember said. “When the time came during the Vietnam War, they fought alongside us, and for that I think we owe them a debt of gratitude.”

The new year event was not only a way to honor Vietnamese heritage and customs. Several prominent Buddhist clergy members celebrated and supported their Vietnamese peers. This forum served to promote Buddhist teachings.

Kottawe Nanda, head monk at the Long Island Buddhist Meditation Center in Riverhead, was in attendance for the festivities. He described Buddhism as a global phenomenon that has spread throughout Asia and the rest of the human world. During that time, the teachings of the Buddha were incorporated into various cultural traditions.

“Buddhism mixed with cultures when it spread to the different countries,” Nanda said. Despite regional variations, “everybody accepts and practices the main core of Buddhist teaching,” the head monk said. 

Nanda contended that the spread of Buddhist doctrine had accelerated thanks to digital technology. Through social media and other forms of high-speed communication, Buddhist literature has become highly accessible. 

“This technology is so helpful for us,” he said, adding, “We use it for our ‘dharma’ purpose: to teach others and learn from others, to discuss, and for many other things.”

The example of the Buddha is still relevant today, according to Nanda, presenting a way to liberate oneself from suffering and “defilements.” This path, he added, is open to all.

“Anybody who can be dedicated can go through that path — that’s the beauty,” he said. “Even you or I can become Buddhas, can attain enlightenment.”

For Kornreich, the future looks promising for the Vietnamese and Buddhist communities within Brookhaven and Long Island. Viewing the multiplicity of people assembled at the temple, he said this celebration reflects the best aspects of America.

“I think the fact that we’re welcoming of other cultures, that we embrace them as friends and that we recognize the value they bring … I think speaks well of us as Americans and as a community,” he said.

Tang said events such as this aid the temple as it works to grow membership and expand outreach. “We are a very open group of people,” he said. “We always invite new members of different organizations to come to our events to celebrate with us,” adding, “And we will continue to do that.”

Nanda argued that societies must infuse citizens with a shared understanding and common identity to thrive. Regardless of the many ills which plague humanity, he remained optimistic that individuals and societies can satisfy these ends, as reflected by the love and joy spread throughout this event.

“We are all human beings,” the head monk said. “When people have less stress, less anxiety, less sadness, then they are healthy. Healthy people, healthy communities, are good for the government.” He added, “As long as you have a healthy mind, your body has good health.”     

— Photos by Raymond Janis

The Asian American Association of Greater Stony Brook and the Town of Broohaven AANHPI Advisory Board will host an art exhibit celebrating the Year of the Tiger and the Lunar New Year at the Setauket Neighborhood House, 95 Main Street, Setauket on Saturday, Feb. 5 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.  Over 50 pieces will be displayed in drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture and mixed media and will touch on the theme of the Lunar New Year and/or the Year of the Tiger.

Awards will be given in three groups: pre-k to 6th grade, 7th to 12th grad and adult. The top three winners will be awarded a $50 Amazon gift card and award certificates.

All are welcome to attend this free event. For more information, email [email protected].