SOUTH PLAINFIELD - At the Jan. 27 council meeting, Mayor Matthew Anesh proclaimed Jan. 25, 2020 as Lunar New Year, urging South Plainfield residents to join in the Chinese New Year celebration.  Several Buddha’s Light International Association (BLIA-NJ) attended the council meeting and Anesh wished everyone a healthy and prosperous new year.

Anesh and several council members had attended BLIA-NJ's new year celebration, which took place on Jan. 25 at South Plainfield's New Jersey Buddhist Culture Center.  Chanting services, family-style vegetarian meals, and ancient tradition filled the weekend.  The entire temple was adorned with new year decor and included the “Exhibition of Dolls in Traditional Clothing from around the World” featuring 90 dolls dressed in the traditional costume of over 50 countries.  The exhibition will remain on display until Feb. 23 with group tours available upon request.

"Thank you for your hospitality on Saturday," Anesh said.  "We all had a great time!"

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Anesh read the proclamation with official commemorated the Lunar New Year, a time when families gather to celebrate and prepare for the arrival of a new year.

"Whereas as we look forward to a joyous New Year, we proudly reflect on the contributions of a culture rich in history and ask our friends and neighbors to join in the celebration as the door to the Year of the Rat opens, we wish good fortune, health and happiness to all those who celebrate," Anesh read from the proclamation.

BLIA-NJ members were asked to the front of the room to receive the proclamation.  Yiwen Chiang, Elder Advisor in charge of cultural programs for the new year and former BLIA-NJ President, addressed those gathered.  

"As active members of Buddha’s Light International Association New Jersey Chapter, we will continue to support the borough we love, town clean up, and parade participation," said Chiang.  "We also would like to introduce multicultural events and programs within the community to keep good affinity with our neighbors and friends in South Plainfield.  We're looking forward to further cooperation and support through the borough.  Thank you so much for having us here!"

2020 is the Year of Rat (子), one of the 12-year cycle of animals in the Chinese zodiac of the Chinese calendar.  Rats are considered a symbol of good luck and wealth in both China and Japan.  They are clever, have excellent taste, and possess natural charm with a funny demeanor.  

"I'm very honored and pleased to be here because that means that the Buddha’s Light International Association New Jersey Chapter gained the recognition from the community and it also reflects our support of the borough in terms of charity work and also the cultural programs that we offer," Chiang said.  "We are very happy to be here, and we're going to continue to support the borough through good deeds."

"I feel very happy we could be here," said Katherine Gao, BLIA-NJ Board member and High School Geometry/Algebra teacher.  "We feel like we are part of the community and that we can do something for the community.  It's our pleasure." 

BLIA-NJ practices Humanistic Buddhism, which encourages all to integrate Buddha's teachings in daily life.  A compassion for all beings is generated through kindness, joy and equality for all.  Buddhism teaches that ideas start the process of bringing what is desired in life.  Buddhists live by speaking beautiful words, doing good in the world and being mindful of their thoughts. 

"We keep on talking about compassion and equality," Chiang said.  "We want to do good deeds.  We want to cherish and build a good affinity with all beings.  That's why we focus our role in thr community as a cultural, educational provider.  We also support those families in need by donating to the food band and daily supplies."  

Each year in August, BLIA-NJ holds a book bag and stationary drive to collect supplies for South Plainfield students.  And throughout the year, BLIA-NJ donates to those in need locally.  They have created many programs to enhance multicultural exposure and are designing more, such as Chinese brush painting, vegetarian cooking class, rhythmic dance group, how to master the cell phone and many more. 

All are welcome to attend programs and weekly Sunday Services from 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at the New Jersey Buddhist Culture Center, located at 1007 New Brunswick Avenue in South Plainfield. A free vegetarian lunch is offered afterward.  For more information, Contact BLIA-NJ at 908-822-8620 or email for more information.