The celebration opened with the lively performance of Texas Buddhist Association (TBA) Youth Group’s Dragon Dance and the Houston Golden Dragon Group’s Lion Dance. The master of ceremony, Richmond City Commissioner Gary Gillen, introduced distinguished guests in attendance, such as Texas State Representative John Zerwas, Waller County Judge Glenn Beckendorff, Waller County Precinct 3 Commissioner Sylvia Cedillo, Fort Bend County Judge Ronald Pope, Fort Bend County Judge Walter Armatys, and former ABC News anchor Shara Fryer. Ambassador Dong-Zhou Liao and other officials from Houston’s Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) were also in attendance.
American Bodhi Center Abbot Venerable Hung I gave a welcoming speech. He stated that even though everyone comes from different places and different cultural and traditional backgrounds, one thing that never changes is the need for mutual respect and mutual dependence for each other as human beings. He hopes that the friendly relationship between American Bodhi Center and Waller County residents will be one that can extend far in to the future.
Following Venerable Hung I’s speech were some remarks by guests and a TBA representative. Both Waller County Judge Glenn Beckendorff and Texas State Representative John Zerwas expressed their thanks to American Bodhi Center for donating $3000 to help Waller County residents who were affected by the spate of wildfires during the summer. TECO Ambassador Dong-Zhou Liao compared American Bodhi Center to being a Pureland on earth and wished everyone a happy and prosperous Lunar New Year. Hung-Zhi Yeh from Texas Buddhist Association also wished everyone a happy Lunar New Year and introduced Vererables who currently reside at American Bodhi Center: Venerable Katapunno, Venerable Huei Du, Venerable Shu Chao, and Venerable Shiou Dao.
Besides treating everyone to a delicious and healthy vegetarian lunch, there were also other entertainment programs such as traditional dance, traditional music, and “face-changing” performance. Various stands were also setup for several activities such as putting guest names in Chinese calligraphy, making fans, displaying the art of making tea, and displaying fruits and vegetables from the Organic Garden in American Bodhi Center.
In Meditation Hall, Venerable Shiou Dao introduced everyone to various Buddhist musical instruments and Venerable Katapunno led everyone in a brief meditation session. The event concluded successfully around 2pm.