It was a day full of good omens at the Hsi Lai Temple in Hacienda Heights. There was the weather, of course: one of those sparkling Southern California mornings, with sunlight dancing across the glazed tile roofs of the brand-new hillside Buddhist complex, the largest in the Western Hemisphere.
"Los Angeles is full of sunshine," the Venerable Hsing Yun said with an expansive gesture. Hsing is the spiritual leader of Fo Kuang Shan, Taiwan's preeminent Buddhist organization and sponsor of the 10-building Hacienda Heights complex.
First proposed seven years ago, the temple was the target of some bitter community opposition. Critics contended that its imposing size would overburden the community's streets.
But much of the local opposition has disappeared as the $15-million complex, under construction for two years, has taken shape on Hacienda Boulevard. Some of those attending Sunday's consecration ceremonies were wide-eyed neighbors, who strolled around the central courtyard, admiring the exotic scene.
For members of the San Gabriel Valley's growing Asian community, the temple complex is obviously a source of great pride. "It's gorgeous," said Grace Tsao, a senior at Diamond Bar High School, who was serving as a volunteer usher for the event. "I'm literally in love with this temple."