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Posted on Sat, May 22, 2010 : 8:51 a.m.

Buddah's Birthday celebration at Ann Arbor Zen Buddhist Temple

By Frances Kai-Hwa Wang

One of my fondest memories is singing songs all night with friends along the banks of the Bagmati River in southern Nepal on Buddah Jayanti (Buddah’s birthday) and sending small clay oil lamps with whispered prayers down the river to join the holiest river Ganges. I can still see the tiny flickering lights floating slowly down the wide dark river, then going around the bend and disappearing from sight.

Buddah’s birthday is celebrated in many ways by many different types of Buddhists. One long-standing Ann Arbor tradition is the Buddah’s Birthday celebration at the Ann Arbor Zen Buddhist Temple at 1214 Packard St., which takes place this weekend. Celebrations include a children's service, bathing the baby Buddah, poetry, a peace parade, talks, chanting, meditation, song (Joe Reilly!), and a beautiful Korean lotus lantern lighting service. Drop in for part or all of the weekend.

Details and schedule at the Ann Arbor Zen Buddhist Temple website.

Frances Kai-Hwa Wang is a second-generation Chinese American from California who now divides her time between Ann Arbor and the Big Island of Hawaii. She is editor of Asian American Village, lead multicultural contributor for, and a contributor for New America Media's Ethnoblog. She is a popular speaker on Asian Pacific American and multicultural issues. Check out her website at, her blog at, and she can be reached at