Noodlies, Sydney food blog looks at their significance
Today, while visiting a local temple, it struck me that food has a special significance for these places of worship. Immediately that light bulb moment helped me to look at things differently and with a heightened sense of relevance.
Firstly, monastics in Australia aren’t supported to the same degree, emotionally or financially compared to Vietnam. As a result most temples hold fundraising dinners, some do it monthly and just about all do something on cultural occasions like Tet (New Year), Vu Lan (Buddhist Mother’s Day) or Phat Dan (Buddha’s Birthday). Noodlies filmed one of these fundraisers a couple of years ago, that day, devotees donate time and ingredients and proceeds go to the temple. The deliriously spicy vegetarian bun bo hue noodles below was offered for just $5.
But food and support goes both ways. Vietnam doesn’t have a social security safety net and many temples play their part by feeding the homeless and hungry. I remember a decade ago, when Cabramatta was a troubled suburb, local temples would feed drug addicts or homeless young people that came to the temple for help.
But food plays a much more mundane, daily part of temple life – that’s probably why I’ve overlooked it in the past. Visitors often bring fruit as temple offering, typically oranges and apples. On auspicious days, pineapple is also offered – in Vietnamese the word for pineapple sounds similar to the word fragrant, conjuring up the idea of an opulent luxurious life.
I remember once, while sitting with an Abbott from Huyen Quang temple, Bankstown, he reminded me that fruit, similar to flower and incense, is a reminder of the impermanence of life – for a fleeting moment it burns bright and beautiful, but eventually all things decay.
If you visit temples, chances are you’ll see much cooking oil being offered. These oils are less about cooking food – they’re used to fuel candle wicks for visitors to light incense (below).
To see more of Kwan Yin temple in Canley Vale watch the noodlies video tour below and make sure you keep an eye out for temple food.
Kwan Yin Temple
2 Second Avenue, Canley Vale