New Year Prayers Rising

At midnight, on January 1st,
I said hello to 2013.
As I watched the glittering ball
descend into Times Square,
thousands of voices cheered
but nothing changed.
I felt the same.
In spite of all the counting,
we have no power over time.

A month later, on February 10th,
I welcomed in another New Year
with a Vietnamese friend of mine.
A completely different approach!
Instead of an expensive glittering ball,
useful items (like salt, fruit, cookies, and tea)
were set out in preparation for the arrival of the New Year.
I am not Vietnamese or Buddhist,
so I don’t know the significance of these chosen items.
But I do understand the intention.
It certainly makes sense to give thanks,
especially in these hard economic times.
After all the prayers were said for business and home,
we drove to the Van Hanh Buddhist Temple in Centreville, Virginia.
We arrived at around 12:30 a.m.
I was surprised to see so many people there,
early in the morning on such a cold night.
They did not come to party; they came to pray.
Sticks of incense were lit and placed in front of statues
that represent the Buddha and other helpful spirits.
***  The photo below was taken with the flash turned ON  ***
Now when I look at this picture,
I can see the prayers of the people
filled with faith, hope, and good intentions
rising in the smoke from the incense sticks.
It  is an inspirational and comforting sight.
Giving thanks and praying
for the best possible future
makes more sense to me
than focusing on a
glittering ball
that descends to the ground
like a rock.
My preference?
I would rather see
New Year prayers rising!     ~ ms

About Mary Strong-Spaid

You can find me any time wandering around in my own mind gathering thoughts.
This entry was posted in Buddhism, New Year, Philosophy, Photo Essay, photography and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to New Year Prayers Rising

  1. robert87004 says:

    ritual with significance vs. an insignificant glittery ball, as it should be. good series


  2. Genie says:

    It is so much more appropriate. Heart warming too.
    Sham and tinsel the other way with the ball.


    • Originally, the ball was created and dropped to enhance and encourage a party atmosphere. It does not symbolize anything else, it has no deeper meaning.
      The prayerful, thoughtful approach to the New Year does so much more for me. As you say, it is heart warming.


  3. Touch2Touch says:

    Oh, my, what a lovely post!
    In Japan everyone goes around midnight of New Year to the (Shinto/Buddhist, they tend to muddle together for me) temple, where the temple bell (usually a big bronze one) is rung by a long thick log run up against it some large number of strokes.
    Do we get the rituals we deserve?
    Charitably speaking, possibly not. I’d like to imagine us getting, in your splendid phrase, New Year prayers rising!


  4. What a great post, I have been so taken aback by all the commercialism holidays have become and this is refreshing to see. Thank you.


  5. ajaytao2010 says:

    Maybe it’s just me.
    But, giving thanks and praying
    for the best possible future
    makes more sense
    than focusing on a
    glittering ball
    that descends to the ground
    like a rock.
    My preference?
    I would rather see
    New Year prayers rising!

    Mary thank you

    I know not what to say
    its beautiful, I love your words

    You believe in silence I know
    somehow silence oozes out of you

    thank for being my friend

    Thank you


  6. eternalcadence says:

    this post is so perfect..and i didn’t know about this ritual significance. its amazing 🙂


  7. ajaytao2010 says:

    I nominate you for the Versatile Blogger Award
    Please accept & oblige.


  8. Pingback: The Versatile Blogger Award | Ajaytao 2010

  9. Ian Beattie says:

    Really nice post, makes you think


  10. Barb says:

    Beautiful words.


  11. fgassette says:


    Thank you for visiting my blog today. I appreciate the time you took to stop by. May your day be filled with joy and peace.


  12. kauaiblog says:

    Glad your experience was a positive one. I once attended a New Year’s celebration at a Vietnamese temple in Southern California. While I was there, I shook a bamboo container until my fortune stick dropped out. A sweet young lady helped translate my fortune. As she did, the entire crowd backed away from me because it predicted a terrible year where I would be sick, maybe die, lose money and have lots of bad luck. My prayers apparently rose above Buddha because I enjoyed a marvelous year, thank you God! Jennifer


  13. Sorry you had a bad experience. I saw no bamboo containers with fortune sticks. I am fascinated by different cultures and religions. I studied both Buddhism and Hinduism when I took Philosophy, and I am pretty sure that Buddha wasn’t into predicting the future. 🙂


  14. Your style is unique in comparison to other folks I’ve read stuff from. Thank you for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I will just book mark this web site.


    • Thank you for calling me unique. My daughter once called me an “enigma”….and I’m not quite sure what she meant by that. 🙂
      I try to post as often as I can find the time. Thanks for the bookmark!


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