Thai Temples in the United States Part 2

The name of the Theravada Buddhist Center, Inc. was officially changed to “Wat Thai of Los Angeles” when the State of California granted the Certificate of Second Amendment of the Articles of Incorporation on June 11, 2522/1979. Shortly afterwards, the construction of the Thai-style main hall was completed and, on October 21, 2522/1979, the grand ceremony of mounting the gable spire (Yok Chaw Fah) was held, presided more than by His Holiness the Supreme Patriarch of Thailand. This major hall is named the ‘Uposatha-sala’ as it has been planned to be multipurpose, functioning both as the consecrated assembly hall and as the merit-making hall.

In Bangkok, towards the end of the same year, on December 26, 2522/1979, Their Majesties the King and the Queen of Thailand presided over the ceremony of casting the principal Buddha image for Wat Thai of Los Angeles, held at Wat Po (or Wat Phra Jetubon: the Monastery of the Reclining Buddha), and conferred on the image the name of Phra Buddhanorathepsasda Dipyanagarasathit. In fact, the initiative to have this Buddha image casted for Wat Thai of Los Angeles should be credited to General Kriangsak Chamanan, then the Prime Minister of Thailand, who conceived the thought when he came to preside over the roofing ceremony for the Main Hall of the Temple on February 13, 2522/1979.

The image was later transferred to Los Angeles and was installed in the Major Hall of Wat Thai of Los Angeles early in 2523/1980. Also enshrined in the Principal Hall is the Emerald Buddha, a replica of the original image in the Chapel Royal of Wat Phra Kaeo in Bangkok which is by far the most revered of all the numerous Buddha images in the whole kingdom of Thailand.

Yet another grand celebration was held when His Holiness the Supreme Patriarch of Thailand came once again to preside over the ceremony of establishing the boundary-marking stones of the Assembly Hall and His Eminence Somdech Phra Dhirananฺamuni led the monks in the Sangha formal act of consecrating the Assembly Hall boundary on October 17, 2525/1982, rendering Wat Thai of Los Angeles a complete-fledged monastery of the Sangha according to the Thai ecclesiastical legal tradition.
There were seven monks, all Thai, which includes a newly-ordained 1, in residence at Wat Thai of Los Angeles during the Vassa period of the year 2520/1977. The number of resident monks has not changed a lot throughout the period of several years. In the Vassa (standard continuous residence period) of 2526/1983, 5 monks had been in residence as incumbents, not like the 4 newly ordained and the seven going to monks who stayed temporarily for 3 or four months.
In addition to smaller merit-creating ceremonies which are held regularly throughout the year on auspicious days such as birthdays and weddings and on memorial and funeral occasions, a number of annual festivals and celebrations are frequently observed on a a lot larger scale on Buddhist holy days and other traditional holidays. Presently, according to the notification the Temple has created to the city government, Wat Thai of Los Angeles normally holds twelve festivals and celebrations every year, viz.,
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