I went on the class field trip to see the Buddhist Temple. Learning about their city is part of the 2nd grade curriculum. They take numerous journeys to Harlem and Chinatown. It is a wonderful experience for these kids to see parts of New York that most New Yorkers never see. I, for one, have never been to the Buddhist Temple.
The Buddhist Temple is located on Canal street between Chrystie and The Bowery, just as the Manhattan Bridge is flowing into downtown New York. It used to be a movie theater but now exists as a Buddhist Temple. One of the things that I learned is that the S train (I gather it did not do this before) now travels from West 4th to the corner of Grand and Chrystie. This is good news for me because I can now travel down to Chinatown to do fresh vegetable and fish shopping much easier. The markets are incredible down there and really cheap.
Anyway, the Buddhist Temple is quite the place. A bit on the tacky side, like a funky Chinese restaurant. You walk into an incense smelling foyer that then opens up into a large room. The entire place is 800 square feet. There is a 22 foot buddha sitting on the stage and 2 pagoda’s in front that have 2000 tiny Buddha’s inside of them. Around the room are posters telling the story of the Buddha. There is a long red table down the middle of the room. When you talk into the room there are 2 rooms, one to your left, one to your right which are shrines or offering type rooms. People have left fruit, pictures of their loved ones, etc.
The 2nd graders who have been held to silence (which is tough) are drawing pictures of what they are discovering. People keep coming in, praying, and leaving items for the gods. The kids mouths just hang open and watch people get down on their knees to pray. It was such a New York experience.
I wouldn’t recommend running down there but if you are in the neighborhood, it is always worth checking out the local flavor. To me, that is the best thing about New York, discovering areas and places that you did not even know existed. As the saying goes, only in New york.