Good Practice: Buddhist Chanting in Pelham, Massachusetts (2023)

Wat Santivana is situated quietly in the town of Pelham, Massachusetts. Seeming unassuming and small, the Buddhist temple, or rather, the place of practice, since it also is home to Poarn Leak and his fellow monk, is an important part of the constellation of Cambodian Buddhist communities in New England. Western Massachusetts has played a significant role in the history of Cambodian Buddhism in the United States. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, a large number of Cambodian refugees fled to the United States in the wake of the Khmer Rouge regime’s genocide. Many of these refugees settled in Western Massachusetts, where they established a vibrant Cambodian Buddhist community.

This documentary looks at the practice of chanting as done by Poarn Leak every evening at 5:00 PM, and tries to make sense of it. But in the end, this film can claim to be nothing more than a representation of what it was like for me to be welcomed by Poarn into his space and his practice.