Mahayana Buddhist Temple offers tranquility

In the heart of Chinatown, an ornate gold Buddha stands tall.

"We have the tallest Buddha statue [in New York City] which is 16 feet high and 10 feet wide and believe me, it is made in USA," said Molly Chen, a volunteer at the Mahayana Buddhist Temple.

The temple opened at the corner of Canal Street and Bowery a decade ago, but quickly made its presence known.

"People looking for spiritual support, a place they're looking for peace, and to answer their questions, solving their problems," Chen said.

It is the largest Buddhist temple in the city and has become an important house of worship for the sprawling Chinese and Tibetan Buddhist communities that live nearby. Visitors come to seek peace and ask the Buddha everyday questions.

Even tourists and people of other faiths come to take in the tranquility and light incense sticks.

This temple branched off from an original location on Mott Street that still exists called the Eastern State Buddhist Temple of America. Chen said that when that temple opened in 1962, it was the first Buddhist temple on the East Coast.

Soon after, more were built. Today, hundreds exist in New York City.

"We never close doors and we just be friendly with any other religions," Chen said. "We like just to communicate."