WAT LAO Budduram of Northern Illinois Hampshire, IL
        August 11-12, 2007

Wat Lao is a small (235 families) Buddhist temple complex located on 21 acres in Hampshire, Illinois. This year, the membership purchased a new Buddha, so they sponsored a two day blessing ceremony.

They brought monks from all over to the budduram to participate in the ceremony. They encouraged people to bring their own Buddhas to be blessed and re-charged.

The Buddhas were to be wrapped in white cloth and tied with white string. Here are pictures of our Buddhas before they left home.
The big Buddha is Chinese. He had been thru the Cultural Revolution, so we were told he really needed to be recharged.

Last year, the temple built a new five bedroom house for the monks. The house roof is similar to those in Thailand, Cambodia and Laos. The roof guardians are called chofas, and were carved in Wisconsin by Laotian woodworkers. The top spire is real gold overlay, with 3 carots of diamonds. As soon as the spire was installed, bees moved in to guard it. This is a photo of my husband taking our large Buddha to the altar.

All the statues are wrapped during the ceremony. There are strings and wires to hold the strings coming from the central statue criss-crossing the entire central area and connecting all the buildings. Coming down from the major horizontal wires are pieces of yarn. The faithful will kneel on the rugs, pull down a string and pray. They will, thus, be connected to the Buddha statues and receive blessings. The praying and blessing will go on all night.

This is a statue of one of the holy monks who died at the Wat last year, but we didn't know this until the statue had been unwrapped. This entire courtyard area was just completed in time for this ceremony. The temple membership works on fixing up the temple on the weekends.

The brown umbrella-like things are to protect the monks from mosquitoes. In Laos, monks often pray [the mosquito netting comes down on all sides of the umbrella] in the jungle forests, so they hang these up and pray underneath them, and their prayers will not be disturbed by insects.