Sri Lanka and Cambodia to promote Theravada Buddhism – President


Sri Lanka and Cambodia should work together to spread the teachings of Theravada Buddhism throughout the world, President Maithripala Sirisena has said in Phnom Penh.

The President made these comments while attending a religious ceremony at Wat Langka Preah Kosomaram in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on Saturday.

In order to achieve this objective measures will be taken to strengthen diplomatic relations between the two countries, he added.

Accordingly, the establishment of a Sri Lankan Mission in Cambodia will be expedited and two consuls will be appointed for both the countries to coordinate the activities, President Sirisena further said.

Buddhism is the historical foundation of the relations between Sri Lanka and Cambodia and while strengthening economic and trade relations, our two countries should work in unison towards the noble mission of preserving Theravada Buddhism, the President said.

The King, Prime Minister and the government of Cambodia have already pledged their support for this endeavor and the process will be taken forward with the assistance of Maha Sanga of the two countries. Discussions on the expansion of investment and trade activities between Sri Lanka and Cambodia have been successfully concluded said the President adding that an invitation was extended to the Cambodian Prime Minister to visit Sri Lanka at the earliest opportunity.

The President also participated in the veneration of sacred relics brought to Cambodia at the request of the Chief Incumbent of Lanka Preah Kosomaram, the Most Venerable Samdech Preah Maha Ariyavamsa Dr. Sao Chanthol, who had requested the President for a sprout of Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi tree and sacred relics of the Buddha to be venerated by the Cambodian people.

On the advice of the Most Venerable Omalpe Sobhitha Thero, steps were taken to bring sacred relics that reposed at the Sri Bodhiraja Dharmayathanaya temple in Embilipitiya and a sprout of the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi to Cambodia in coordination with the visit of the President.

The President observed religious rituals at Lanka Preah Kosomaram temple and paid floral tribute to the sacred relics. The Maha Sanga in Cambodia, the Deputy Prime Minister Samdech Chaufea Veang Kong Som OI and a large number of clergy and laity attended this event.

How a Tiny Bit of Indian Soil Might Have Found Its Way to the Moon


New Delhi: Even before India’s much-touted lunar missing, Chandrayaan-2, lands on the moon, a very small biological sample from the country may already be there.

According to The Hindu, this is because the only likely surviving payload onboard the Israeli lunar lander Beresheet, called the Lunar Library, contained a leaf and some soil from the Bodhi tree in Bihar.

Beresheet, whose name is Hebrew for the biblical phrase ‘In the beginning’, was launched on February 21 on board a SpaceX rocket. On April 11, it crash landed on the moon after a series of technical failures during its final descent. It was reported then that the Lunar Library, created by the Arch Mission Foundation (AMF), was likely the only payload that wasn’t destroyed in the crash.

But what is this Lunar Library, and why was it carrying Indian soil?

The Library, according to the AMF, “contains a 30 million page archive of human history and civilisation, covering all subjects, cultures, nations, languages, genres, and time periods”. It’s meant to be a “backup” of life on Earth, in case of human extinction.

It “is housed within a 100 gram nanotechnology device that resembles a 120mm DVD. However it is actually composed of 25 nickel discs, each only 40 microns thick,” AMF says.

Nova Spivack, co-founder of the AMF, told The Hindu in an email that a small sample from the Bodhi tree, along with material on learning Hindi, Urdu and information on music, were a part of the Lunar Library. He said:

“The management of Mahabodhi stupa (Bihar) privately gave me a leaf from the Bodhi tree and some soil from under the Bodhi seat. These were included. We mixed these with relics from saints and yogis, as well as earth from sacred caves and tiny bits of relics from India, China, Bhutan, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Nepal and Tibet.”

This isn’t the startling revelation Spivack has made about what the Lunar Library contains. Last week, he revealed that thousands of tardigrades – microscopic creatures commonly known as “water bears” – are also a part of this backup. Tardigrades are known to be some of the most resilient creatures on Earth. As The Wire has reported before, they have been known to come back to life even after being exposed to radiation in space and being frozen for several years.

On the AMF website, the organisation had earlier revealed the some of the contents of four analogue layers and 21 “layers of 40 micron thick nickel foils, each containing a DVD master”. This included private archives on culture and music, thousands of PDFs of books, linguistic datasets and more.

Even then, though, the foundation had made it clear that there was more than it was saying. “But this is only the beginning of the story – there is in fact much more in the Lunar Library. This will be revealed in coming months and years,” it said.

For the Times They Are a-Changin’: Sakyadhita and the Radicalism We Need to Save the World


The 16th Sakyadhita Conference, held in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales in Australia, proved to be an uplifting and informative event. Held outside of Asia for the first time in its history this year, the conference drew 800 people from 29 countries under the theme “New Horizons in Buddhism.”

Since its inception 32 years ago under the Bodhi Tree, Sakyadhita has been a conference unlike any other: held by women for women (and non-binary people and women’s supporters). Sakyadhita is an international association of Buddhist women working for women’s issues and bringing women together to build support and mutual understanding about issues that are important to the empowerment and spiritual growth and well-being of Buddhist women.

This year’s conference  was very skilfully organised, with fewer academic papers and more workshops. The papers presented were educational, inspiring, and at times heartbreaking. Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo, a senior Buddhist nun and teacher, described the difference between Sakyadhita and other—more male-dominated—Buddhist conferences she had attended by observing that at Sakyadhita there is no sectarianism, all traditions are given a voice, and more women are empowered to speak out and help one another.

Buddhist superstars including Roshi Joan Halifax, Ven. Lekshe Tsomo (for many years the main impetus and energy behind the conference and a champion of nuns in the Tibetan community and in developing countries), and Ven. Thubten Chodron (abbess of Shravasti Abbey) each gave inspiring Dharma talks.

There was extensive diversity in terms of both the papers and workshops. A beautiful montage of the history of Buddhism in Australia was given. Householder yoginis spoke of the power and embodiment of balancing motherhood and practice. Korean celebrity nuns presented Korean cooking. A married female Western Rinpoche spoke of the profound Tibetan lineages of marriedyoginis and dakinis. Bhutanese nuns and Australian ex-nuns both spoke on the devastating effects of sexual and spiritual abuse by teachers in Buddhism.

Other attendants presented workshops for people from the LGBTQIA community, and many people within this group expressed that they still felt prejudice and marginalization in society and within the Buddhist community. Korean laywomen joyfully shared their Buddhist choir, and women in traditional dress mindfully led a tea ceremony.  

After 16 conferences—gathering thousands of women from across the globe—one has to ask: has Sakyadhita achieved its objectives of empowering Buddhist women, creating gender equality, fostering an alliance of Buddhist women, engendering compassionate social action, and promoting the Buddhist teachings? 

On the positive side, Buddhist women now know a lot more about each other than they did when they were separated by borders and languages 100 years ago. Sakyadhita has fostered an international sisterhood. In particular, many more prosperous Buddhist women have become aware of female monastics and lay women living in poverty in developing Buddhist countries and have sought to help those women and nuns.

Examples of this include the Jamyang Project, founded by Ven. Lekshe Tsomo, which helps many nunneries throughout the Himalayas receive basic necessities; Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery for Drukpa Kagyu Himalayan nuns, founded by Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo; and the many Sri Lankan and Thai bhikkhuni viharas that have been founded as the ideas of gender equality and the legality of full ordination for women have spread.

There are now hundreds of bhikkhunis (fully ordained nuns) in Thailand, and thousands in Sri Lanka. Although Sakyadhita may not be directly responsible for these ordinations, its members have done a great deal to promote and fund these women and their institutions. Nuns and lay women now have more access to information, opportunities for solidarity, occasional funding, and pathways to full ordination—in part due to the amazing work of Sakyadhita. At the meeting 32 years ago under the Bodhi tree, and at later gatherings, nuns from Ladakh admitted they had hardly any education or support. Now, decades later, there are many schools with nuns studying to be geshemas. Sakyadhita was one of the first Buddhist organisations to hold bhikkhuni ordination.

On the “challenges to grow from” side, only half an hour was dedicated to an issue that has rocked the Buddhist world: the sexual misconduct of many prominent Tibetan male lamas. This has damaged lives, traumatised numerous people, and caused them to lose faith. The whole issue has made many people question the efficacy of a system based on complete devotion to fallible human beings.

Additionally, looking around the conference, although there were so many wonderful women doing amazing work, I could not help but notice that most heads were grey. Like most Buddhist organizations, Sakyadhita is still dominated by the baby boomer generation. Millennial and Gen-Y women are often absent from many of the Buddhist events that I attend, or they are a minority. While Sakyadhita does a great deal to try to be inclusive, a generation gap exists—not just in terms of age, but in understanding the priorities of each generation. Because the boomers are such a large generation who made such radical shifts in culture and change, it is still quite normal for them to dominate and center on themselves. But the world in which Gen-Yers and millennials are growing up is radically different from the world that baby boomers knew.

We now need to question whether civilisation will last beyond the next 20–30 years because of previous generations’ reckless consumption of natural resources and the cumulative damage to the natural environment. Baby boomers are the most prosperous generation that have ever lived. Millennials are burdened by much higher university fees and housing prices, while earnings have not kept pace with the cost of living. Many millennials will never own their own home and question whether it’s ethical or responsible to bring a child into a world with the looming potential of social collapse due to the climate crisis.

When I spoke to one senior nun about the massive effect that the #metoo movement was having on my faith, leading me to question the whole system, and how I wished that they would let the audience discuss it more, she replied: “That’s a topic you personally want to hear, it’s not a topic many of us want to hear, we are sick of it.”

After 32 years, has enough changed for women? Western Tibetan Buddhist nuns still have little support and a 75 per cent disrobing rate, and many nuns and women in developing countries still lack resources and gender equality. Clearly we need to do more than give speeches and present PhD papers. We need to go back to our centers, question male dominance, and support nuns and women from our pockets, not just our mouths. 

There is no doubt about the beauty and potential of women coming together to share stories and pool resources. The legacy of Sakyadhita is groundbreaking, especially around rights for Buddhist women in developing countries, the geshema degree for Tibetan nuns and full ordination for Theravada nuns. But as someone sitting on the cusp of being a millennial, who may not grow old, who feels for the children alive today and worries if the society will survive, I can’t help but feel frustrated that patriarchy has not been more efficiently dis-assembled, that Buddhist women in so many places are still poor and not equal, that absolute power in Buddhism has not been abolished, that rapist/abuser teachers are still being defended and idolised. As someone who is losing their future, I am growing impatient with those who talk about using more efficient light bulbs and going vegan when what is needed is something much more radical as a collective. I appreciate the amazing work and solidarity of women from previous generations, but I am also frustrated when I see the world is on fire, yet women in Buddhism are still largely subservient to men.

Why do we go on supporting men whose only agenda is to support and perpetuate the power of other men from their own race? Why after all this horrible abuse and all these women disrobing and being exploited and raped is it considered taboo to question male authority? Why are those who dare to speak up considered too radical and faithless, and therefore sidelined?

Where are the male leaders who claim to love all beings equally? They are most noticeably absent from an international conference on the well-being of half the Buddhist population. The sad fact is that those most noticeably absent are those with the most power in Buddhism. Sakyadhita is groundbreaking and has made inroads that no other Buddhist organisation has been able to make.

In terms of “New Horizons in Buddhism,” I can’t help feeling that we need to be much more radical if we are going to end patriarchy and save the planet. Although the older generation has done some truly remarkable things, they don’t have their finger on the fault lines that my generation is living on, which go much deeper than we previously thought and could tear humanity apart. I hope my generation and those after us will have a future.

Saigon pagoda decorated with thousands of plates


Belonging to the Linji school, a branch of Zen Buddhism that originated in China during the Tang Dynasty (618-907), Giac Lam Pagoda in Lac Long Quan Street, Tan Binh District, is also known as Cam Son or Cam Dem Pagoda.

The pagoda has a total area of nearly 29,000 square meters and is located on a high mound. Its architecture is distinctly southern. There was no gate for the pagoda until a three-part entrance was built in 1955.

The pagoda consists of three interconnected horizontal blocks: the main hall, the lecture hall and the dining hall. After three major restorations, the pagoda has some additional features including the tower, stupa and lecture hall.

The pagoda’s old tiled roof is different from most pagodas in southern Vietnam. It consists of four flanges in which the tiles are lined up neatly. This style is different from the blade tile structure in the northern region.

On top of the roof is the familiar dragon, a mythical creature of great importance in Vietnamese traditions and beliefs.

The main hall still retains its ancient style and ambience with two wings and four pillars. It is deep and spacious. There are 56 large wooden columns, each elaborately engraved with parallel sentences and painted in gold.

In the center of the main hall are the statues of the Buddha and Bodhisattvas on the Three Jewels altar. Most of the statues are made of wood, and are hundreds of years old.

Surrounding the pagoda are 113 ancient statues, all wooden, except for seven cast in bronze. The statues are of Buddha Amitabha, Shakyamuni Buddha, Guan Yin Bodhisattva, Ksitigarbha and other bodhisattvas sculpted by artisans in Binh Duong Province in early 19th century.

The most distinctive feature of the pagoda is that its ceiling is paved with more than 6,000 decorative plates.

Next to the main hall, the Hong Hung Tower also has more than 1,000 decorative plates. Other towers around the pagoda mark the graves of its abbots.

The decorative plates are made of ceramic in the kiln at Lai Thieu Ward of Thuan An Town, Binh Duong Province. Some are from China and Japan. The decorative plates were added to the wall of the pagoda in the first half of the 20th century.

With more than 7,000 decorative plates, Giac Lam Pagoda holds the record of being the pagoda with the biggest number of decorative plates in Vietnam.

In front of the pagoda is the 7-story hexagon Stupa. The tower’s construction was begun in the 1970s, but was suspended until 1993.

The pagoda’s garden is filled with many trees, shrines and Buddha statues. Most prominent is the ancient bodhi tree brought from Sri Lanka in 1953.

Giac Lam Pagoda is one of the oldest pagodas in Saigon. It was recognized a national historical-cultural relic in 1988 and is a major tourist attraction now.

‘Peace walk’ monk returns to Thailand


A Thai Buddhist monk recently returned to Thailand after finishing his walk across America to promote world peace.

Phra Sutham Nateetong, 59, completed his walk from Santa Monica, California, to New York on June 30 and returned to Thailand on Wednesday. 

His journey from the West to the East Coast of America took him 121 days to complete and spanned 5,013 kilometres. 

“America gives you a picture of the world. I saw all kinds of people and faced all kinds of weather conditions during the walk,” he said. 

Phra Sutham received support from people all over the United States.

“Native Americans were very supportive of me,” he said. “They appreciated my presence and gave me blessings whenever we met.”

He added that Laotians and Thais in America were also very supportive of his journey. 

Fans took turns accompanying him and sharing the news about his walk with those living in the areas that he was passing through. Some offered him food and money, while others travelled for several hours just to pay their respects, he said.

In some areas, he became the talk of the town because none of the residents had met a Thai person or a Buddhist monk before. 

He also insisted on continuing his entire trek by foot despite pressure from some supporters to pass through certain areas using a vehicle, due to fears of potential attacks. 

“They prioritise peacebuilding so much. American people love peace, not war. Only capitalists and weapons and oil traders want wars. They manipulate politics too. But ordinary Americans love peace and live peacefully,” he said.

Some cities and towns such as Eureka, California, provided protective police motorcades anyway. 

“I think people know that I went to promote peace and nothing else. They understand,” he said.

“Learning to live with those who think differently from us is an art that brings happiness to people and the world,” he added. 

Phra Sutham plans to resume his walk in France after he spends Buddhist Lent in Bodh Gaya, India, where Lord Buddha is believed to have attained enlightenment beneath a Bodhi tree.

Every Blooming Thing: Everyone needs a ‘tranquil spot’ in their garden


Everyone has an area in their yard that could be called a “trouble spot”. Too much sun or too shady, on a hill, bad soil, too rocky, etc. The list goes on. We had some of these problems, as we had just moved into a new home along the river and were putting in a yard where there had never been one before. Our problem was a corner of the yard with four large sycamore trees and a valley oak all on a small rocky knoll with plenty of shade. Here’s how we dealt with it.

The time was about 16 years ago. The place, Eureka at a large garden center. As we were looking around, suddenly my husband said that he had found what we needed for the trouble spot in our yard and pointed to a Buddha statue. The price was not insignificant. He has such a “stony” look I argued. My husband informed me that Buddha was meditating. My question then was how will we get him home. My husband said that he would ride in the back seat of course. And that is what our Buddha did. He rode in the back seat with his seat belt on and a tranquil look on his “stony” face. He was much more tranquil than me, because I do not like the curvy, twisty road from the coast.

But wait, there was another problem when we got home. Not knowing anything about a garden Buddha, I did some research and found that he should never be placed directly on the ground. A search for a pedestal was needed. Thankfully we found one without too much trouble, and our garden Buddha was put in his forever spot facing toward our house. This is placement protocol and is said to bestow great abundance on the home. I also discovered, for some mysterious reason, you should never buy a Buddha for yourself. As my husband bought this one for me, we are okay.

There was more information I discovered all those years ago. The different poses of the Buddha have different meanings. There are over 100 poses illustrating the life of Buddha. Ours happens to be a garden meditating Buddha. He represents concentration, so his eyes are closed, he is seated with both hands in his lap and his legs are crossed. He depicts tranquility and serenity. The meditation pose was used by Buddha under the legendary Bodhi tree, wherever that is.

The story is that Buddha (meaning the Awakened One) was a real person, born about 500 years B.C. in what is now modern day Nepal. His name was Siddhartha Gautama. He abandoned his privileged life to become a monk and was said to have attained nirvana (freedom from suffering) through his meditation. Buddha was merely an enlightened man not a god. Statues of Buddha are only peaceful icons, works of art and have no significance other than a decorative piece.

Every morning, as I have for years, I look out my window and see our Buddha statue who is concentrating, meditating and peaceful and know that all is good in our tranquil garden.

Red Bluff Garden Club meets the last Tuesday of the month at 12:30 p.m. (no meeting in July), at the Methodist Church 525 David Ave., Red Bluff, visitors are welcome.

Peerless Poson Poya Pageant: Englightenment in the Peerless Poson Poya Pageant: Englightenment in the Mango Grove


‘Spiritual pageant’ is the most eloquently befitting definition that can effectively capture the inner essence of the Poson presence of Arahant Mahinda at the Mango Grove that has now acquired a sacred aura.

The whole island was in the midst of a royally-decreed National Festival. The King had set aside this day for a ‘Deer Hunt’ in the Mango Grove.

By this time Arahant Mahinda had already arrived at that site by air with a saintly retinue of six, and had alighted on the Rock at the Mango Grove.

The King, with his bow and arrow ready, was rushing past the Rock earnestly chasing the deer he had targeted. Suddenly he stood still, when someone accosted him by his first name ‘Tissa’. His fury knew no bounds, as there was no being who had the audacity to call him by his first name. Looking around, he saw a solitary figure in saffron robes, on the top of the Rock. (Arahant Mahinda had concealed the others, by his miraculous powers).

In his uncontrollable resentment at the daring of this ‘odd looking’ character, the King became abusive.

Pujavaliya the reputed Sinhala classic, states that Arahant Mahinda listened to all those words of insult with saintly patience and responded with this statement:

“Oh great King, we are monks, disciples of the King of Truth. We have come from Jambudipa (India) in our compassion for you.”

Pujavaliya comments, that, Arahant Mahinda listened to the insults of the King, “with the indulgence of a father, responding to the childish prattle of an infant,” and calmed the troubled mind of the King, revealing the reality.

Immediately, there is a dramatic change in the King. He espouses the Timeless Dispensation of the Supremely Enlightened Buddha along with all his people.

To my mind, this could very well be the swiftest conversion of a whole nation, in recorded history.

This miraculous transformation, that took place about 2,265 years ago, has endowed upon us an unresolved enigma.

Emperor Dharmasoka sent spiritual emissaries to a whole series of countries. The missionaries who took his spiritual message to most countries were primarily elderly monks.

But, consider Sri Lanka.

The Great Emperor Asoka sent to our land his son and daughter- Ven. Mahinda and Ven. Sanghamitta. Over and above that the Emperor saw to it that, 18 clans of persons, well-versed in a vast range of crafts and rituals arrived in Sri Lanka to perform tasks associated with the practice of the New Religion.

But, there was a prefatory phase we should focus on. Early in the reign of King Devanampiyatissa, the Emperor had the Sri Lankan Ruler consecrated a second time, during which the Ruler had to take on the Title Devanampiya (Beloved of Gods) as an Imperial Gift from Emperor Asoka.

Under the Emperor’s patronage a sapling of the sacred Bodhi Tree was brought here by the Ven. Sangamitta.

Both Ven. Arahant Mahinda and Ven. Sangamitha passed into Nibbana during the reign of King Uttiya (207-197 BC). Arahant Mahinda was 60 Ven. Sangamitha was 59. But exactly what was the reason for Emperor Asoka to focus so keenly on Buddhism in our land?

Strangely enough, Arahant Mahinda conducted the earliest I Q, in Sri Lanka’s history when he tested King Devanampiyatissa’s wisdom through a series of queries.

If one is interested in making an in-depth study of the sustained effort Arahant Mahinda made to establish Buddhism on a firm footing in Sri Lanka one must go through the detailed chronology effected by the author of Pujavaliya about the impressive range of activities of Arahant Mahinda in the early and formative days of Buddhism in Sri Lanka.

The Ven. Author of Pujavaliya, sets down in high admiration that Arahant Mahinda presented a multitude of sermons without getting down any reference book from India.

That is only a mere drop in the massive ocean of achievements by Ven. Arahant Mahinda. He converted tens of thousands into monks and nuns; established a Buddhist monastic culture that is still alive even in this 21st century. The temple rituals and lay practices of Sri Lankan Buddhists can be traced back to the ramifications of his initiatives.

The primary ritual of calling the faithful to listen to a sermon was practised on the Rock in the Mango Grove.

In this very first input at the Rock in the Mango Grove, Ven. Arahant Mahinda requests the Novice Monk Sumana to call out to deities to listen to the sermon.

The moderns will be overwhelmed by surprise when they become aware that most of our monastic and lay Buddhist rituals can be traced to this miraculous Poson Encounter at the Mango Grove.

Our Poson Day should be to meditate profoundly on the manner in which Ven. Arahant Mahinda and his saintly retinue, ensured the lasting presence of the Buddha’s sacred Dispensation in this Isle of Righteousness. (Dharmadvipa).

Scholarly research about the immortal contribution of Arahant Mahinda to the Timeless Teachings of the Buddha while residing in our Noble Land will invariably prove that the popular designation of Arahant Mahinda as the second Buddha is pre-eminently apt.

2019 Lotus Lantern Festival wishing for peace held successfully with more than 400,000 people participating


SEOUL, South Korea, June 18, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — The 2019 Lotus Lantern Festival called YeonDeungHoe, one of Korea’s traditional annual events and Intangible Cultural Property No. 122, has been successfully held with more than 400,000 Buddhists, citizens, foreign residents and visitors participating and enjoying the festival together.

To celebrate Buddha’s birthday and wish for peace, this year’s Lotus lantern festival took place from May 3 to 5, with a variety of programs including lantern parade and traditional cultural events.

During the festival, about 100,000 beautiful lanterns brightened Seoul’s night sky, delivering the wishes of temples and organizations that had prepared the lanterns for the last one year, and giving warm energies to people’s hearts.

A wide variety of colorful lanterns, such as 4 Buddhist instrument lanterns and Bodhi tree lanterns (grande lanterns) which symbolizes Buddha and his birth, Taegeukgi (the Korean flag) lanterns and star lanterns, had attracted people’s attention. During the Hoehyang Hanmadang, which combines the splendid, majestic energy and passion of the lantern parade, both Koreans and foreigners expressed their joy by enjoying the “flower rain” from the sky and traditional performances as well as fast beat music of EDM.

On May 5, which is Children’s Day in Korea, Traditional Cultural Events featured six themes: “youth and children,” “international,” “NGO,” “food,” “tradition” and “sharing.” Several programs for kids were prepared, such as traditional ring toss and a game of ttakji-chigi, or slap-match. Surprisingly, Buddhist monks gave presents to children on the streets, which was very popular among kids.

In the “Lotus Lantern-Making for foreigners”, around 200 foreigners participated and made colorful lanterns with a unique harmony of colors, while participants’ children also enjoyed Korea’s Children’s Day by playing yut, a traditional board game, and jegichagi, Korean shuttlecock game, for the first time.

Yeondeungnori started with grande lantern parade led by the festival’s global supporters and small-sized parade by Yeonhui Group. It was full of happy energy with a variety of performances and ended with promise for the next year’s lotus lantern festival (YeonDeungHoe).

Exhibitions of traditional lanterns held in Jogyesa Temple, Bongeunsa Temple, and Cheonggyecheon Stream were also successful. The beautiful lanterns that had shone with the lantern festival will be even brighter in the next year. Next year’s Lotus Lantern Festival is scheduled to take place from April 24 to 26, 2020.

SOURCE Yeon Deung Hoe Preservation Committee

Half Marathon will close Highway 50


More than 1,800 runners are expected to participate June 15 in the 5th annual Rock Tahoe Half Marathon at Lake Tahoe.

Runners will enjoy the south and east shore scenery as they go past Glenbrook, Logan Shoals, Cave Rock, Round Hill Pines, Nevada Beach and Rabe Meadow and wind down over 1,000 feet from Spooner Summit to the finish line at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Lake Tahoe.

About 100 runners are returning to participate in the event, sponsored by Epic Tahoe Adventures, for a fifth time.

“We are truly humbled by the number of runners who return to Rock Tahoe year after year,” Epic Tahoe Adventures’ Jessica Schnoll said. “This year alone, 40 percent of the total registered participants have completed Rock Tahoe before and are returning for a second, third, fourth, or even fifth time.”

“Rock Tahoe introduced me to half marathons five years ago and I’ve come back every year,” said South Lake Tahoe resident and five-year legacy runner Katie Joll. “The serenity of an early morning run by the lake can’t be beat and there’s an amazing vibe to this whole event. I’m looking forward to crossing the finish again to celebrate Rock Tahoe number five this year.”

The race weekend starts with a “Rock the Plaza” Packet Pick-up and Pre-Race Expo from 2 to 8 p.m. June 14 on the Guitar Plaza in front of Alpine Union at the Hard Rock.

The event is open to the public and will feature booths from both local and national sponsors, including samples from Lake Tahoe AleWorX, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Nuun, Honey Stinger and more.

Racers can pick up their race packets, snap photos in the digital photo booth and shop all of the official Rock Tahoe Half Marathon merchandise.

Race day begins bright and early the next morning at Spooner Summit with the high-energy Run MC and Kaia Fit getting runners warmed up and pumped up at the start line.

The race features two start times — 7 a.m. for walkers/joggers and 8 for runners.

With seven aid stations on course, the event is fully prepared to meet racers’ hydration and nutritional needs. The aid stations are all hosted by local organizations.

When runners finish the 13.1-mile course, a Finish Line Festival & Post-Race Pool Party will be happening through the day.

Runners receive a free can of Cali Common from Lake Tahoe AleWorX, vanilla dairy-free milk from Ripple, a complimentary massage from Bodhi Tree Massage School and guided stretching from Lake Tahoe Yoga.

The finish line festival features several other vendors plus the return of food trucks including local favorites.

The Rock Tahoe finish line festival is open to the public as well as participants. The festivities kick off at 8 a.m. and the first race finisher is expected around 9:15.

Winning times for males and females in 2018 were 1:20:42 by Melvin Nyairo and 1:36:37 by Stephanie Carlsake, respectively. Both will be defending their titles.

Awards are given to the top three men and women, along with the first-third spots in each age/gender group.

Registration was still open for this year’s race with just under 100 left spots as of Tuesday.

Prince William students take top honors at research symposium


Students from Benton and Graham Park middle schools and Colgan High School received awards for papers accepted to the 78th Annual Meeting of the Virginia Junior Academy of Science Research Symposium, held May 21-23 at Old Dominion University in Norfolk.

VJAS is sponsored by the Virginia Academy of Science and is a forum where middle and high school students compete after months of experimentation and preparing their projects for scientific presentation, according to a news release.

The research symposium also provides an opportunity for students to attend lectures by professional scientists, scientific paper sessions of the VAS and research presentations by their peers.

From Graham Park Middle, Desmen Andrew Boykin received first place in the Ecology and Earth Sciences category for his research titled “The Effect of Micro-Plastic Polymers on the Ficus Religiosa Bodhi Tree’s Shoot and Root systems.”

His paper also received the Dorothy Knowlton Award, given to the middle school student presenting the best paper in the life sciences.

Desmen also is one of only four students to earn the top award of the American Junior Academy of Science, an award given by the Virginia Academy of Science to students in grades 8-11 for presenting the most outstanding papers at the symposium.

The winners are invited to attend the annual meeting to present their research before the American Junior Academy of Science, which meets concurrently with the American Association for the Advancement of Science, held in February 2020 in Seattle.

Desmen also received the Ertel Thompson Memorial Endowment Award, presented to the grand prize winners of the research symposium to assist in their travel expenses.

From Benton Middle School:

• Tony Bright, Arman Lateef, and Gabriel Ralston took first place in the category of Animal and Human Sciences for their presentation of their research, titled “To breathe or not to breathe: Can face masks diminish inhaled pollution and improve health outcomes in Drosophila melanogaster?” The team was invited to present their research to the Virginia Academy of Science symposium to undergraduate and graduate students.

• Max Sigrest received second place in the Engineering and Technology category for presenting his work, titled “Invisible Fence: #NotJustForDogs: The effect of subdividing an array of an 802.11ac SOHO Router on the ability to localize a mobile device.”

• Fares Elsherbiny and Caleb Morgan took second place in the Human Behavior category with research titled “Fidget Wars: The effect of fidget toys on the concentration of school-age children.”

Shan Lateef, currently a sophomore at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, won first place in the high school division in the Medicine and Health category and also won one of the four Best of Symposium awards. Lateef will travel to Seattle in February 2020 and present his research at the American Junior Academy of Science Symposium.

Colgan High’s Nicholas Morgan and Malak Elsherbiny presented their research, “The Effect of Magnets on Plant Growth Rate and Size,” in the Botany category.