Faces of Vancouver: Kwan Yin Temple
Started in 1979, the Kwan Yin Temple and Monastery in Richmond was built in the traditional Chinese imperial palace style and is considered one of Greater Vancouver’s most beautiful temples.
A statue of the Maitreya Buddha, flanked by palm trees and stone lanterns, greets visitors at the entry. Before leading to the main temple, the path skirts a classical Chinese garden, complete with lake, bridge, and viewing pavilions. Entry to the eastern courtyard is through one of two gates on either side of the Seven Buddha Pavilion. The eastern courtyard faces the marble steps leading to the Main Gracious Hall, which contains a large, gilded statue of the Buddha. A pavilion on the eastern side of the courtyard enshrines a statue of the all-seeing Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, one of whose forms is also known as Kwan Yin, the embodiment of compassion.
The Main Gracious Hall is the focal point where people worship and pray. Memorials to the deceased are located at the rear. Beneath the Main Gracious Hall is a reasonably priced vegetarian dining hall, which is open to the public. A smaller courtyard on the north side leads to the western courtyard which houses the Thousand Buddha Hall, the Ancestral Hall, and the Meditation Hall. The large Meditation Hall, when not used for formal programs, is open for personal meditation. Weekly guided meditation classes are held in English, Cantonese, and Mandarin.
Visitors are welcome and encouraged, regardless of philosophy or religion. However, no alcohol, tobacco, meat products, and loud behaviour are permitted. The complex also houses a working monastery which is closed to the public. The site is open every day of the week from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.. There is no entry fee.
Douglas Aitken is the author of the book Three Faces of Vancouver. Every Monday, Faces of Vancouver looks at the city’s buildings, past and present, with a focus on Vancouver’s European, Asian, and First Nations cultures.