Abbots of Four Buddhist Temples Gather to Plan Celebration of the Buddha’s Life.Walden, N.Y. - Hundreds of Buddhists and the interested public from throughout the Hudson Valley will gather in Walden on May 5th to celebrate Vesak, Buddhism's holiest day. Vesak commemorates the Buddha's birth, enlightenment, and passing over 2500 years ago in India. Since 1999, it has been recognized as a United Nations Day. Widely celebrated throughout Asia, in the past quarter century, Buddhist temples have come together for annual Vesak celebrations in major metropolitan areas in the U.S. such as New York City, Washington D.C., and Los Angeles. This will be the first time that Buddhists in the Hudson Valley have hosted a joint celebration to meditate together on their holiest day. This year's event is organized by four Buddhist temples from the Tibetan, Vietnamese, Chinese, and Korean traditions, whose abbots have been meeting for six months to plan the event. The organizing temples are Tsechen Kunchab Ling, a Tibetan Buddhist temple in Walden; Dharma Seal Monastery, a Chinese Buddhist temple also in Walden; Won Kak Sa, a Korean Buddhist temple in Salisbury Mills, and Blue Cliff Monastery, a Buddhist temple in the tradition of Plum Village established by Thich Nhat Hanh in Pine Bush. This year's celebration will be held at Tsechen Kunchab Ling, Temple of All-Encompassing Great Compassion, located at 12 Edmunds Lane in Walden. The celebration is free and open to the public, 9:30 to 5:00. People are welcome to drop in and out throughout the day, as their schedule allows. The program will begin with a colorful procession of Buddhists from many different countries, doing walking meditation around the new temple building. Inside, monks from the various Buddhist traditions will perform melodious chants in honor of the Buddha in their native languages. Lunch will be a buffet of vegetarian food from all over Asia, each participating temple sharing their ethnic cuisine. The afternoon program will include meditation, a talk by Venerable Bhikku Bodhi who is a renowned Buddhist scholar from Chuan Yen monastery in Carmel, sacred Korean monastic dance expressing the search for truth, and videos of Vesak celebrations in other parts of the world. All are welcome to attend. Mr. John Revella, Walden Village Manager said, "Walden is delighted to host the first annual Hudson Valley Vesak Celebration. The coming together of people from many different countries and faiths is the essence of American religious freedom and multi-cultural friendship." Venerable Khenpo Kalsang Gyaltsen, abbot of the Tibetan Buddhist temple in Walden explained, "It has been a joy to work together to organize this first annual celebration for everyone in the Hudson Valley and it is an honor to host the first year's event. As the celebration grows over the years, I am confident that our four temples will be joined by many other Buddhist temples in the area. Interest in Buddhism is growing rapidly in the Hudson Valley and the United States." Reverend Chodrung-ma Kunga Chodron, an American Buddhist nun at Tsechen Kunchab Ling who helped to organize the event observed, "In addition to the spiritual dimension, the program offers a unique and free opportunity to sample the art, music, dance, food, and living culture of four different Asian countries, all in a single day right here in the Hudson Valley." Tsechen Kunchab Ling Temple, at 12 Edmunds Lane in Walden, where the event will be held, is beautifully adorned in traditional Tibetan style, on a property that formally served as an Italian summer resort. Susan Hawvermale, Orange County Director of Tourism observed, "Historic properties throughout the Hudson Valley are finding new life as Buddhist monasteries and retreat centers, offering quiet settings for meditation and contemplation. Of particular interest to tourism are the special events open to the public giving everyone an opportunity to see the rich cultural heritage of these centers." Venerable Xin-Xing, abbot of the Chinese Buddhist temple Dharma Seal, on Saint Andrews Road in Walden explained the significance of the event. "Vesak is an ancient holy day of great significance internationally. The Hudson Valley Vesak festival on May 5th is the beginning of a local celebration that will have links to celebrations throughout the country and the world." Brother Vu, from Blue Cliff Monastery observed, "This has been a wonderful coming together of our various traditions to celebrate the Buddha's life, a very important event that is the root of all our traditions. "Buddhism is based on practicing compassion and wisdom to create happiness and overcome suffering. "We come together on this holy day in peace and compassion to meditate and pray for happiness and peace of all living beings throughout the world," explained Venerable Gikwang Sunim, abbot of the Korean Temple, Won Kak Sa. "People of all faith traditions, and those of no particular tradition are welcome to join the celebration. Everyone agrees about the need for more happiness and compassion in the world." For more information contact or call 301-906-3378. Photo caption: Abbots of Four Buddhist Temples Gather to Plan Celebration of the Buddha's Life. Left to right: Venerable Gikwang Sunim from Wonkaksa; Venerable Khenpo Kalsang Gyaltsen from Tsechen Kunchab Ling; Brother Phap Vu of Blue Cliff Monastery; Venerable Xin-Xing from Dharma Seal Monastery. Taken at Tsechen Kunchab Ling Monastery in Walden, where the May 5 celebration will be held. Contact:  Reverend Dr. Chodrung Kunga Hudson Valley Vesak Celebration of the Buddha's Life Organizing Committee (301)906-3378