all photos by Jonathan Levy.
Flowers and Water are the creative themes.
5 hours Saturday and 3 on Sunday in which to introduce 12 participants into the notion of being funny, exploring their funny and performing a clown ritual to follow ZCLA’s annual Buddha’s Birthday Ritual Celebration, in which the Sangha offers flowers then pour sweet tea over baby Buddha. This is the 8th year that the clowns have followed the celebration with their interpretation of the ritual. This year’s highlights included re-offering the flowers back to the Sangha and a Baby Buddha celebrity style contest to see who would receive this year’s baby Buddha ablution.
The Clowns appear on Roshi Wendy Egyoku Nakao’s backporch, in full view of the audience, munching on Wendy’s…
And Mr. YooWho appears with an oversized umbrella behind which they all hide, and they move as a group towards the lawn where everyone has gathered.
Mystery bells ring from somewhere above and behind the flower arbor. The umbrella lifts high briefly and one by one, the clowns come out from underneath, bell in hand, playing the moment as they see fit.
Once revealed and all re-assembled on the other side of the lawn next to the flower ardor, a discussion ensues about the flowers and a desire to offer them to the audience develops….and a conspiracy starts brewing…..
They are then surprised by a mystery guest who has arrived late to the ritual and proceeds to show the proper way to offer flowers and pour sweet tea over baby Buddha. The clowns are surprised by the minuscule size of his spoon, and are surprised that the Zen folks are so stingy in the amount of tea they offer. They start to argue with each other…
In the midst of the argument, a clown decides that she should be the baby Buddha, jumping out and taking the baby Buddha stance, which encourages another to follow suit, suddenly there are four clown proclaiming that they are Baby Buddha.
What to do ? Only one What to do ? Only one solution, a Baby Buddha contest to see who is the best baby Buddha. The contest preparation takes place spontaneously, a priest brings in a gigantic bowl of water. Kitchen spoons, sauce ladles, and super size soup ladles appear magically, as does a panel of judges and 4 water pourers.
The contest is to see who can maintain their Buddha nature while freezing cold water is poured over your head…first with the big spoons, after which one contestant is eliminated, then with the sauce ladle, another elimination, then the final round with the super soup ladle.
Jawoo, the Korean Nun visiting the Zen Center, won the honors for the Baby Buddha crowning moment…she thinks it is just a soup ladle full, but the clowns have another idea…