A Few of My Favorite Things: ‘Haunted Garden’

Photos taken over the weekend by Kathy Chouteau.

By Kathy Chouteau

Amid Richmond Halloween celebrations including haunted houses and bobbing for pumpkins, is a way to celebrate unlike any other—the “Halloween Celebration and Haunted Garden”—Tues., Oct. 31 from 5-8 p.m. at the Gyuto Foundation, a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in East Richmond Heights.

Gyuto is situated on a gorgeous, Redwood-laden campus overlooking Wildcat Canyon that the monks generously open up to community members to enjoy, as well. Central to their property is a beautiful Peace Garden that transforms into a Haunted Garden on Halloween night, a rose garden that becomes a graveyard and a green thoroughfare alongside mini-prayer wheels where a maze materializes.

Our family has been stopping by Gyuto on Halloween for years, and in recent ones, they’ve amped up the fun for kids of all ages. This tradition has cemented its place as one of my recurring favorite things about living in Richmond. It’s an evening kids won’t forget and will want to return to year-after-year.

Venerable Thupten Donyo, founder and director of the Gyuto Foundation, was born “on the foothills of Mt. Everest” in Nepal and became a monk when he was 12 years old. He said that neighbors helped him come to embrace the “important American cultural tradition” of Halloween and believes that the monastery’s celebration is good for the community. Ven. Donyo said Tibetan Buddhism has a skeleton tradition and Halloween ties into their spiritual practice in that it’s a reminder that “life is impermanent.”

This year, Ven. Donyo dove all-in on preparing to share the great tradition of Halloween.

This year, Ven. Donyo dove all-in on preparing to share the great tradition of Halloween, as I witnessed during a sneak peek this past weekend. Ghosts, skeletons, black spiders, lights, a cloud tunnel, music and more will be awaiting the kiddos in the Haunted Garden Halloween night. The Haunted Garden can be found directly to the right after entering the Gyuto Foundation’s main gate.

More skeletons await at the maze, a 50 ft. feature that’s marked in orange and sprawls out across the main lawn, while the property’s nearby rose garden—which is still in its early phase—is playing home to a spooky graveyard. And what’s a Halloween celebration without candy? The Gyuto Foundation will be handing out more than 100 pounds of it in all, in what the Ven. Donyo describes as “buckets of candy.” The monastery folks will also have chai tea, a possible contained fire and more in its courtyard.

The Halloween Celebration and Haunted Garden can be found on the campus of the Gyuto Foundation, 6401 Bernhard Ave. in Richmond. While the celebration is open to children of all ages, the monastery suggests that “before sunset might be a little less spooky for younger kids.” Questions? Email [email protected].