Lao Buddhists Honor Monk With Elaborate Funeral

June 29, 2009

Author: Bob Smietana

Source: The Buddhist Channel/The Tennessean,8327,0,0,1,0

More than 600 of Nashville's Lao Buddhists gathered on Sunday to pay their final respects to a beloved spiritual leader and one of the Southeast's leading Buddhist monks.

The service marked the end of more than 30 days of mourning for the Venerable Somdy Soumano Soupanya. He was abbot of the Wat Lao Buddhapathip in southwest Nashville — a temple he founded in early 1990s. He would see it grow from humble beginnings to a thriving center of faith and culture with plans to build another temple.

"The temple that is here began as a small house — look at it now," said Nom Christine Inthachith, Soupanya's niece. "Look at how far it has come."

Because he was considered a high priest among Lao Buddhists, known well in Nashville and beyond, Soupanya was given an elaborate funeral. He lay in state at the temple for two days, and then was put in a place of honor, in a field next to the temple.