by Jenniffer WARDELL
LAYTON—Come ring in the new year.
Wat Dhammagunaram, a Buddhist temple located in Layton, is giving residents the chance to do just that with their upcoming Songkran celebration, set for this Saturday, April 28, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the temple. The celebration, which honors the Thai-Lao new year, will include both Buddhist ceremonies and a variety of other activities for the public to enjoy. Admission is free.
“There will be singing, and kickboxing, and cultural shows,” said Michael Church, a member of the temple’s board of trustees. “It’s open to everyone.”
Among the scheduled activities include a Thai kickboxing demonstration, Thai dancing in traditional costume, dance performances from other cultures, classical piano shows and more. A Miss Songkran pageant is held, where all of the contestants will be in traditional Thai dress. A variety of Thai food will also be available for purchase.
“There’s pretty much music or something going on the whole time,” said Church.
There will also be traditional Buddhist ceremonies performed, including a ritual hand washing. Event organizers will invite notable local figures, including Layton Mayor Bob Stevenson, to take part in the ceremony. Elders from the community will be included as well, since the festival is designed in part to honor elders.
“The beauty pageant contestants will go down the line and pour water on their hands,” said Church. “It shows respect, and ensures good luck for the coming year.”
All proceeds from the event will go straight back to the temple.
“It pays for upkeep, as well as various projects such as the new parking lot we’re going to need to put in,” he said.
Tours of the temple will also be available throughout the celebration, with people on hand to answer any questions visitors might have.
“We like to get the community involved, and show everyone what our temple’s about,” he said.
Non-Buddhists are welcome to take part in the church’s weekly Sunday services, which start at 10:30 a.m. The services are conducted primarily in Thai, along with Laotian, Cambodian and English. The temple will also re-start their Buddhism class, which will be in English and is open to everyone.
“(Buddhism) isn’t very well known right now, and we want people to be able to come in and see what we do,” said Church. “We have a lot of people who say they drive by and want to know what’s going on, but they don’t know how to approach us. Just come on in.”
Wat Dhammagunaram is located at 644 E. Gordon Avenue in Layton. Parking is available nearby.