Nan Hua Temple Comes Alive For Chinese New Year
Welcoming the Year of the Ox in Bronkhorstspruit
This past weekend my girlfriend and I, both nursing mild hangovers,had an early morning rendezvous with her parents in order to travel outto Bronkhorstspruit together and check out the Chinese New Year festivities at Nan Hua Temple. I really can't comment much on the drive since I slept most of the way, but the temple is not more than an hour away from Jo'burg by car.
There was quite a turnout and the crowd was an eclectic mix of salt-of-the-earth boere with long socks and sandals, young alternatives and even a large contingent of Asian people (strange that...?). As we walked from our parking space the temple loomed larger and larger. It's quite a surreal site really. A Buddhist temple rising out of the flat Bronkhorstspruit veldt like a mushroom, seeming somehow out of place and yet perfectly "in-place" at the same time.
Inside the temple courtyard there were various cultural displays from participatory paper-folding to dragon and lion dancing, as well as the obligatory fireworks display (there is still a little ringing in my ears). The selection of weird and wonderful traditional Chinese food might not have seemed like the best idea for morning-after breakfast but I held my breath, dived-in and was pleasantly surprised. My girlfriend got herself some vegetarian sushi (Buddhists don't hurt the fishies) and I had a couple of custard filled things. On the refreshing beverage front we went for a natural vegetarian jelly drink that totally hit that thirst quenching spot.
After this exotic brunch we made our way up the grandiose front steps to the main temple building. Outside people decorated prayer trees with wishes on ribbons and bought incense to burn in the temple. Leaving our shoes at the door we entered the quiet of the temple and despite the crowds found an atmosphere of deep peacefulness inside. Looking around me at human beings of all cultures and creeds, either sitting in contemplative silence or participating in ritual that was not necessarily their own, I felt that with all this acceptance and tolerance this might turn out to be a Happy New Year after all.
For more info on the temple and the weekend programs they offer go to http://www.nanhua.co.za