Watsonville Buddhist Temple celebrates 100 years of worship

Santa Cruz Sentinel, November 5, 2006

Watsonville, CA (USA) -- Hundreds gathered Saturday to celebrate the 100 years the Watsonville Buddhist Temple has served as a center of worship and community.

Founded by immigrants who arrived in the Pajaro Valley at the end of the 19th century, the temple continues to be a focal point for Japanese culture though the sangha, or congregation, welcomes people of all backgrounds today.

The congregation spent the last year sprucing up the temple and its grounds in preparation for Saturday's ceremonies. The massive gold altar was sent to Japan for restoration and even the parking lot received a new layer of asphalt.

Members prepared themselves by attending a series of lectures touching on historical, cultural and spiritual topics.

Saturday's celebration included a parade of children dressed in the traditional Japanese costumes that date back centuries, services with incense offerings called oshoko, lunch and speeches by dignitaries.