It seems like many of us in LA are currently blogging from Rosedale, but if I were to blog from the afterlife, it would probably be from Rose Hills, in Whittier. More specifically, the International Buddhist Progress Society (IBPS) Buddhist Columbarium at Rose Hills. That’s because the ashes of various members of my family are interred here.
When my paternal grandfather passed away in 1997, his ashes were temporarily housed at a location on the site of the Hsi Lai temple while they were completing construction. His ashes were moved to the Buddhist Columbarium shortly thereafter. When my maternal grandmother passed away in 1999, we had her ashes interred here, as well. Last year, my father passed away very suddenly and our family made the decision to have his ashes placed in the niche next to his father’s. Needless to say, this place has a very special place in my heart. In a time of sorrow and grieving, I find solace here. While I can get creeped out from going to a cemetery, I always leave peaceful after visiting here.
They have chanting services every Saturday morning at 10:30am where anyone is welcome. Although the chanting is done in Chinese, you don’t need to speak/read Chinese to chant the Dharma; they have English translations and phonetic guides to help you chant. Get there early if you actually want to read any of the Dharma, though… it does go fast.
This week was my father’s birthday and Saturday was his birthday on the lunar calendar so my brother and I went there to do a special chanting service for him. Although it’s been a tough, tough week for me (missing my Dad during his birthday), I left the service and visiting his ashes with a peaceful heart, something I didn’t think was possible considering I started crying in the middle of the chanting service. I am grateful that a place like this exists here in Southern California. It’s unique and I know that no other venue would be able to cater to my family’s needs as this one does.
Photo courtesy: Hsi Lai Temple website
(More after the jump)
The IBPS Buddhist Columbarium is located at the highest point of the Rose Hills Memorial Park & Mortuary. Located on 2.5 acres, the Buddhist pagoda is surrounded by the scenery of rolling hills and meandering valleys. The three-story structure is supported by crimson pillars and golden glazed tiles replicating the architecture of ancient Chinese palaces. Being the first of its kind in North America fully enriched with traditional cultures of Taiwan and China, the main entrance is adorned by the four heavenly guardians who protect sentient beings against all evils.
Throughout the surrounding elegant mottled marble walls are 60 images of Buddhas, an embodiment of acceptance to all. Neatly organized and stored within and outside the main pagoda are 20,000 vaults and niches. Individual and family size niches are available with three types of vaults – marble, glass and bronze. The pagoda groves are decorated with 1,600 little pagoda shrines designed for those who prefer individual stupas for themselves as well as their families. Pine trees on top of the hill, flowering shrubs and flower pavilions in the park for people to rest indeed accentuate the ideals of the pure land.
Monastics perform morning and evening chanting services everyday to transfer the merits to the deceased. In addition, the Memorial Columbarium provides services such as transferring of urns from one location to another and performs Buddhist traditional rites. In the event of Buddhist occasions, Hsi Lai Temple will prepare Dharma services in dedication of the deceased to gain the path of righteousness.
Vaults in the main pagoda and pagoda groves are jointly administered by the management of Hsi Lai Temple and Rose Hills Memorial Park for the purchaser who is given the Deed of Grant. In addition, all legal documents will be filed with the governmental body that has jurisdiction over this establishment. The park is maintained by specialists who adopt cutting-edge technology and techniques that provide the most efficient and prompt service to all.