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Buddhism convention to welcome public

The Spokane Buddhist Temple is hosting the 65th Northwest Buddhist Convention this weekend at the Davenport Hotel.

More than 300 Buddhists from the Northwest and Canada are expected to attend.

“Mostly the Northwest convention-goers are from Seattle, Portland and Tacoma, and we have invited people from the temples in British Columbia,” said Mari Haworth, spokeswoman for Spokane Buddhist Temple.

The three-day event opens Friday and includes workshops in Japanese and English, a bookstore and gift shop, and a banquet featuring Spokane Taiko Japanese Drumming.

Saturday’s public event is an excellent introduction to Buddhism, Haworth said.

“We find that a lot of people are very curious about Buddhism especially young people, and some people have some misconceptions,” she said. “This part of the convention will explain that Buddhism is more of a lifestyle than it is a religion.”

The opening ceremony, which is part of Saturday morning’s event, features representatives from the different temples bringing flowers and other gifts to the altar at the front of the room.

“The opening event is a traditional Japanese Shin Buddhist service, that will be very interesting for people,” Haworth said. “It will be explained as it’s going on.”

The Spokane Buddhist Temple is the oldest Buddhist establishment in the Inland Northwest. The temple has about 60 members, with a group of 12 who’ve pulled the convention together. Usually, these conventions are put on by temples with three times as many members.

“We are really small. It’s like the little engine that could with just 12 of us putting it on,” said Haworth, “but we wanted to take our turn. I’ve been up to 1 in the morning on many nights lately.”

The Spokane Buddhist Temple hosts several open houses and public events during the year, and it was important to the temple that this convention had a public component.

“We are the only ones who have planned a convention event that also invites the public,” said Haworth. “Part of our mission is to do more outreach, this convention was a great opportunity to do so.”

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