Rochester's Bhutanese Nepali community turned a celebration of Buddha's birthday Sunday into a chance to support victims of the recent earthquake in Nepal.
Buddhist chants filled Jones Square Park as women in long red dresses pick white blossoms from the trees to lay at a shrine. Rochester's Bhutanese Nepali community organized the event to recognize the 2577th birthday of the Buddha.
The chants came from a small tent where three monks sit cross-legged in crimson and yellow robes. Lead organizer Karan Thapa instructed adherents to enter to light tea lights and pray.
"We have the program of lighting lamps to celebrate the birthday of Lord Buddha. 108 one set and the other set of 108 lamps there in the names of the victims of earthquake in Nepal."
The celebration took on a different meaning after a devastating 7.9 magnitude earthquake hit Nepal last week, taking over 7,000 lives and affecting millions. In addition to celebration and prayer, attendee Padam Ghimire says the group is collecting funds for earthquake relief.
"It is a great opportunity, that we, even though are miles and miles, or thousands of miles away from our country, thousands of miles from our brothers and sisters back in Nepal, we are still able to support them."
Despite the festive atmosphere, the tragedy is not far from people's minds, Nir Gurung told WXXI News.
"We're very sad, but today we're celebrating. We're praying for the earthquake victims, we're lighting candles for them. We're doing it to wish for them to have peace."