KENT, N.Y. — The Dalai Lama attended the dedication Saturday of a new Buddhist temple that holds the second-largest indoor Buddha statue in the world.
During the four-hour service, gongs were struck, bells chimed and incense burned, beginning four days of ceremonies, speeches and rituals. The day started with the consecration of the $6-million Great Buddha Hall.
"We hope and pray that the Buddhist message of compassion will last forever," said the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual leader.
The Nobel Peace Prize winner spoke to about 5,000 people, including state and county officials, Tibetan monks and Buddhist priests at the Chuang Yen Monastery, about 60 miles north of New York City.
The statue inside the hall of the Buddha Vairocana is 37 feet tall and sits atop an 8-foot lotus-leaf pedestal. The only known Buddha statue that is larger, measuring 54 feet, is in a temple in southeastern Japan.
"Paris has its Eiffel Tower, New York City has St. Patrick's Cathedral and Kent has its great Buddha Hall," Kent Supervisor Joseph Belvedere said.