I can barely believe that I wrote our first Dharma Folk post one year ago today. We had no idea what we were going to do with this blog. We had a lot of thoughts and things to say about Buddhism and the Buddhist community. We figured we might as well start a blog and start writing.
Today is the start of the “other” Asian New Year. In Thailand, Laos and Cambodia, it’s celebrated as Songkran. In Burma, it’s called Thingyan. Both are modern derivatives of the Sanskrit sankranti, which refers to an “astrological passage.” If you get the chance to go to temple for a New Year festivity, beware that this holiday is also known as the Water Festival. You might want to bring clothes that you don’t mind getting wet! (I know that this New Year is also celebrated in Sri Lanka, by both Sinhalese and Tamils. I just don’t know how they celebrate it.)
Of course, I have a snarky twist in store for every celebration…
I’ve been surprised at how little blog fanfare there’s been about this Southeast Asian New Year. At least on the Buddhist blogosphere. In my limited set of Buddhist blog subscriptions, I’ve only noticed one post with what looks like “Thingyan Mingalaba” from Ashin Sopaka. (Burmese doesn’t display well on my Mac, but Happy New Year to you too!) In contrast, when I searched my Google Reader for “Tibetan New Year” and “2009”, I found 17 hits.
Does this say anything about the Buddhist community?
My concern is that the American Buddhist media, blogosphere included, is more likely to trumpet Tibetan issues than the issues of groups that make up a much, much larger chunk of the American Buddhist community. There are certainly more Songkran, Thingyan and Aluth Avurudhu celebrations in North America than Losar festivities. But the Tibetans still get more press.
Well, I’m sure I’m jumping the gun a bit. By the end of the week, there will likely be many more references to the New Year that’s celebrated by tens of millions of Buddhists through South and Southeast Asia. You can be sure I’ll be keeping watch.
For this New Year, I extend good wishes to you all. May you be happy, peaceful and successful! To all you Tibetophile American Buddhists, I wish you much success and good fortune in your pursuit of freedoms and human rights in Tibet, and that you also find some room in your hearts for tackling the issues of poverty, gang violence, poor education and institutional neglect that affect tens of thousands of your American Buddhist brothers and sisters right here at home. Perhaps you can wish us a Happy New Year as well.