By Lethbridge Herald on December 29, 2020.
COVID-19 has caused the cancellation of another beloved annual tradition in Lethbridge.
The Buddhist Temple of Southern Alberta has cancelled its annual New Year’s Eve bell ringing ceremony at Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden.
“It is very unfortunate,” says Rev. Yasuo Izumi of the Buddhist Temple. “We started the ceremony in 2003. I came to Lethbridge for my second assignment in 2002, and I had the opportunity to see the big bell at the Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden, and I thought I should start the year-end bell ringing. It is very common in Japan at almost all Buddhist temples.”
The event has grown over the past 17 years from a small ceremony with few in attendance into a significant gathering of over 100 people every New Year’s Eve.
According to Izumi, the bell is rung 108 times, and represents the Buddhist conception of the six senses: taste, sight, touch, smell, sound and mind.
The bell is rung 18 times to represent the three states of those six senses: like, dislike and neutral. This is multiplied by two times to represent the Buddhist conceptions of attachment and detachment, bringing the total rings to 36. And this, in turn, is multiplied by three times again to represent present, past and future, bringing the total to 108 rings.
“We should ring it 108 times to dispel our blind passions,” Izumi explains, “and to reflect on ourselves.”
Sadly, Izumi says, this year he will be ringing his bell alone, but others are still invited to take part virtually through Zoom and YouTube.
View the Buddhist Temple of Southern Alberta Facebook page for more details.
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