Tibetan Buddhist Temple Draws Westerners to Medford, MA

February 29, 2004

Source: The Boston Globe


On February 29, 2004 The Boston Globe reported, "On a recent February morning, a celebration of the Tibetan New Year began in a bright yellow house on Magoun Avenue. Red-robed Tibetan Buddhist monks tended to last-minute tasks, as other people arrived and sat on cushions near the sight of three golden Buddhas and a large photograph of the Dalai Lama decorated with white silk scarves. It was past 6 a.m., Feb. 21, and this little temple -- filled with sweets, flowers, and bowls containing water, rice, and incense -- could have easily been a scene from Nepal or, in years past, Tibet. But one thing was starkly different -- almost no one was Tibetan. The Australian-born director of the Medford site, called the Kurukulla Center for Tibetan Buddhist Studies, closed her eyes and chanted prayers in Tibetan as clearly as the monks beside her did. Sitting in the back, a Buddhist originally from Maine, with a baby boy next to him, followed the same verses in a voice as resonant as the Nepalese lead chanter's. In this setting was a monk, Venerable Geshe Tsulga, known as Geshe-la, who leads a group of 80 to 100 longtime Buddhists and newcomers at the Kurkukulla Center. The native of Tibet is also the religious leader for a good number of the 368 Tibetans in Greater Boston, who call on him regularly to perform ceremonies, but seldom frequent the temple for weekly events. His role illustrates an irony in the area's Tibetan community. Many Tibetans say they are devoutly religious, but because they are relatively new to this country, they focus more on establishing their lives here, and so they often practice their religious ceremonies at home rather than at the temple. Even so, Geshe-la would like to see more Tibetans participate in the center's activities."