December 1, 2012
REL2011 Sat 9:30am
When it came down to me finding out where I wanted to do my site visitation for this class, it was actually a lot harder than I thought. I grew up in a household that had Hindu morals and values, however, my parents’ view on religion were quite vague. Growing up we never attended church (temple) and the only time we celebrated any religious holiday is when our grandparents came around. My parents believed in allowing my little sister and I to grow into our own religious beliefs. At first I considered practicing Christianity because most of my friends are Christian and I figured it would give me an opportunity to learn more about them. I ended up attended a service at a Baptist Church called New Birth Baptist Church located in North Miami, but when I sat down to write the paper I had nothing interesting to write about. I started researching different religions and finally came across a Buddhist temple called Wat Buddharangsi. Before visiting the Wat, I found a contact number on their website which I called to find out more information. A woman answered the phone and there was an extreme language barrier between the two of us. I wasn’t able to get her name however, I understood the Wat held a service in English on Sunday afternoons during the hours of 3-5. After having an unsuccessful conversation I continued to do online research. I found that the Wat Buddharangsi is open to the public every day from 7 am to 5 pm. During those hours, the public is able to speak and visit the monks, no appointment needed. They have chanting’s on Sunday at 6 am and 6 pm. They also offer meditation in English on Sundays from 3-5 pm as well as in Spanish on Monday at 6 pm. It is expected that when attending that you dress appropriately and not wear anything provocative. Also, it is preferred that you dress in light colored clothes. They also ask that prior to entering the building that you remove your shoes out of respect for the building, and leave them outside on a shoe rack. The monks are not allowed to touch females, nor are they allowed to take anything from the hand of a female. Even though it is not custom, males are allowed to shake the monks’ hand. As a visitor you are allowed to bring food whether it is perishable items or prepared foods for the monks but it is only until 10:30 am, after that no food is accepted. My actual experience during my visit started prior to my arrival to the Wat. I’m not sure if it was due to a beautiful Sunday afternoon, however, as soon as I turned from the main road heading towards the Wat, the area just seemed very serene and peaceful. The Wat is located in the southern part of Miami called Homestead. It’s a semi-rural area where most lots consist of acreage and fields. Upon my arrival, my first impression was actually quite disappointing. From the pictures I assumed the Wat was very large and over the top, however, the buildings were still very beautiful and the architecture was exquisite. The buildings were all white with gold accents that looked as though the entire building was shipped over from Asia. Stepping out of the vehicle was an experience of its own. It’s difficult to explain but just being there made me feel very relaxed and free of worries. My roommate accompanied me, and even she felt very at ease and comfortable. Walking up to the entrance of the Wat, my roommate and I ran into a man folding laundry. He was an older man, and it seemed as though he was just someone that worked there to do handy work. I explained to him that I am a student at FIU and I am doing a site visitation for my religions class. He told us that service started in thirty minutes and that we were more than welcome to walk around until then. He also made sure to mention to us a couple of times to help ourselves to refreshments of water and tea they had set out in a designated area for visitors. While walking around waiting for service to start...