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Ringing in the New Year at... Wat Thai Temple?

108 Chants
108 Chants

While most people look for a place to ring in the New Year in loud inebriated celebration, not many would consider doing something out of the ordinary: structured chanting and reflection. For those willing to give it a try, check out the Wat Thai Temple of Los Angeles in North Hollywood.

Just before 11 p.m. people start to gather in the temple for the chanting session of the “Preliminary Homage to Buddha,” in which words and phrases in ancient Pali are repeated 108 times until midnight. Buddhists consider this a way to pay respects to the Buddha.

Looking above you will see white string forming a web, a set stretching from the front to the back of the temple crisscrossing with another set running left to right. Where the strings intersect, more string (with a red or white picture of the Buddha attached) drops towards the floor. Each person in a kneeling position at the temple grabs onto at least one string to hold for the ritual. Later, these strings are cut at the start of the New Year to keep for good luck and long life.

On this night, my third time visiting for the New Year, I was aided by printed text to guide me through the chanting. Monks led the entire group, their voices all in unison.

Perhaps it was the orderly nature of the event, but unlike at other traditional New Year’s celebrations, I found more time to reflect on the year that had passed and think about the year that was about to begin.

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108 Chants
108 Chants

While most people look for a place to ring in the New Year in loud inebriated celebration, not many would consider doing something out of the ordinary: structured chanting and reflection. For those willing to give it a try, check out the Wat Thai Temple of Los Angeles in North Hollywood.

Just before 11 p.m. people start to gather in the temple for the chanting session of the “Preliminary Homage to Buddha,” in which words and phrases in ancient Pali are repeated 108 times until midnight. Buddhists consider this a way to pay respects to the Buddha.

Looking above you will see white string forming a web, a set stretching from the front to the back of the temple crisscrossing with another set running left to right. Where the strings intersect, more string (with a red or white picture of the Buddha attached) drops towards the floor. Each person in a kneeling position at the temple grabs onto at least one string to hold for the ritual. Later, these strings are cut at the start of the New Year to keep for good luck and long life.

On this night, my third time visiting for the New Year, I was aided by printed text to guide me through the chanting. Monks led the entire group, their voices all in unison.

Perhaps it was the orderly nature of the event, but unlike at other traditional New Year’s celebrations, I found more time to reflect on the year that had passed and think about the year that was about to begin.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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