From ground breaking to grand opening of Bouddha Dharmapithamu

Preamble

The date November 19th 2017 marked a historical milestone in the revival and spread of Buddhism in Southern India where a Buddhist Centre, Bouddha Dharmapithamu at Undrajavaram, West Godavari District, Andhra Pradesh was completed after three and the half years of laborious work in its construction.

The construction of the Bouddha Dharmapithamu kick started with the foundation stone-laying ceremony on May 24th 2015 witnessed by many local and foreign monks, nuns, dignitaries and guests on this noble and auspicious event.

In order to maximise optimal usage of the Bouddha Dharmapithamu a soft opening ceremony was held on January 16th 2016 when the building was partially completed with two stories ready for occupancy. Six samanaras were adopted to provide linage to keep Buddhism alive in the Southern India vide this Centre. Today it has a total of thirteen samanaras.

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The thirteen samanaras on campaign trail for the opening ceremony of the Centre.

The cumulation of the preceding events climaxed with the grand opening of the Bouddha Dharamapithamu, which incidentally is also the tallest building in the vicinity, serves as a beacon in the propagation of Buddhism in this region of the country.

 It also serves as a resource centre for research and academic pursuits for scholars.  Ironically, Buddhism originated in India some 2500 years ago had somewhat evaporated for the country of birth but flourished in many nations overseas. It is indeed a noble cause that could not come at a more opportune time for the establishment of the Centre for the revival of Buddhism. 

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Archway of glistering lights leading to the Boduddha Dharamapithaum for its grand opening ceremony.

The Visitors

The main group from Singapore departed on November 17th 2017 comprised of nineteen personal viz: four sangha members and fifteen devotees and well-wishers graced the occasion. Ajahn Keng, Bhante Cakkapala,  Bhante Dhammajothy and Bhikkku Lee were among the entourage by invitation.

The complete group of devotees and well-wishers from Singapore were Catherine Wong, Chin Kee Thou, Christine Chew, Cynthia Tan, Doris Yip, Fiona Liu, Goh Swee Pheng, Hing Seng Huat, Lim Hock Kee, Lim Soo Huang, Maggie Tai, Raymond Yow, Sue Simon, Susan Yap, Susie Lee, Tham Chee Keong, Upekkha Chin, Yong Wee Siong and Zhang Yuxian.

The list of the sangha who spells who and who were:

Ajahn Keng from Singapore; Bhante Cakkapala from Myanmar; Bhante Dhammajoti from Sri Lanka; Bhante Khemacara from India; Bhante Kusalananda from Sri Lanka; Bhante Rathanajoti from Sri Lanka; Bhante Saddhananda from Sir Lanka; Bhikkhu Lee from Malaysia; Bhikkhuni Dhammacarini and Bhikkhuni Thitacarini from Indonesia; Bhikkhuni Nguyen Thi Truc Ly from Vietnam and Venerable Hsueh Men from Singapore; with about 100 Sangha studying at Nagasena University attended event.

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Visiting delegation from Singapore.

Advance party

Brothers Raymond Yow, Hing Sing Huat, Goh Swee Pheng and I arrived on November 16th assisted and oversaw the preparation for this grandiose event working in collaboration with the working committee under the charge of Bhante Analayo. Brother Raymond the team leader with a game plan conferred with him on the ritual and ceremonial aspects like sitting position of the sangha on stage for the sanghika dana, procedure for offerings to the Buddha like water, light and fruits by selected lady devotees and selection of monks for delivering of speech.  A rehearsal was held to ensure proper and timely execution of the tasks.

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Raymond Yow and Hing conferred with Bhante Analayo the game plan with members of the local working committee ….

 

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… and execution of the game plan with the contractor.

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Briefing and rehearsal for lady devotees for presentation of offerings to the Buddha

A large turnout

An estimated turnout of about 5000 well-wishers and visitors was envisaged, called for set up  of a large tentage and marquee pitched on the vacant land adjacent to the Centre to accommodate the congregation together with a stage for sanghika dana for 47 monks and nuns.

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A large teenage pitched outside the Centre that held a crowd of 5000 …

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… and a stage for 47 monks and nuns for sanghika dana.

 

Campaign trails

The preceding two days to the grandiose event were campaign trails by monks, nuns and samanaras, led by a bajaj (Indian three wheel tricycle) decorated with banner on each side pitched with two loudhailers on its roof, blasted away and broadcasted the event as they meandered through selected route of roads, allays and lanes to the villagers and residents within the vicinity of the Centre which is about five kilometres in radius.

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Bajaj decorated with banner on each side led the way in the campaign trails pitched with two loudhailers on its roof blasted away broadcasts.

The processions with flag bearing supporters distributed flyers to passers-by, cyclists, motorcyclists, shopkeepers, stallholders and even delivered to their homes. The campaign trial listed for about three hours per trip on each day.

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The procession comprised of monks, nuns, samanaras, supporters, well-wishers and flag bearer distributed flyers along the selected route.

Distribution of flyers

Vernacular press

On the eve of the auspicious day the press called upon the host and selected representatives for an interview and the news items were reported in the vernacular press.

Press interview with the host, Bhante Analayo …

… and team leader from the Singapore delegation, Raymond Yow.

Pindapata or Alms round

The grandiose event started at six o’clock in the morning with a procession of sangha order comprised of monks, nuns and samanaras in a single file formation, led by the most senior monk in term of the number of vasa, went for alms round or pindapata, flanked on both sides by devotees and flag bearers dressed in all white travelled along the rehearsed route.

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Sangha order readied for alms round flanked on both sides by devotees in all-white attire awaited for the signal to proceed.

 

Two set up distribution points

There were two setup distribution points where devotees and well-wishers offered alms or dana to the sangha as they passed by, mindfully dropped them in the alms bowl of each sangha member and samanara.  “In giving food, one gives five things. What five? One gives life, beauty, happiness, strength and intelligence.  And in giving these things, one partakes in the qualities of life, beauty, happiness, strength intelligence, both here and hereafter.” (A.III,42).

Pindapata

Alms giving in progress.

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“In giving food, one gives five things. What five? One gives life, beauty, happiness, strength and intelligence. And in giving these things, one partakes in the qualities of life, beauty, happiness, strength intelligence, both here and hereafter.” (A.III,42).

The alms-gathers on their way back were welcome by devotees and well-wishers who lined the walkway of the Centre and sprinkled corollas at the feet as they walked pass and then headed to the washing point had their feet washed and dried before headed for the stage set up for the sanghika dana. 

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Devotees and well-wishers sprinkled corollas at the feet of the sangha as they walked by …

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: … had their feet washed and dried before going up the stage for sanghika dana.

Grand Opening and Consecration ceremonies

The opening ceremony was initiated by Madam Chitturi Usha Rani of the Hotel Chitturi Heritage symbolically cut the blue ribbon attached across the main gate and declared open the Centre while the crowd watched enthusiastically.

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VIP Madam Chitturi Usha Rani of the Hotel Chitturi Heritage flanked by Raymond (left) and Hing (right) who would officiate the opening of the Centre.

Simultaneously on the fourth-storey the Dhamma Hall with the newly installed five-foot marble image of the Buddha from Mandalay was consecrated by the lighting the oil lamp performed by Ajahn Keng, Bhante Dhammajoti, Bhante Khemacaea and Bhante Rathanajoti.  

Dhamma Hall

The consecration of the Dhamma Hall attended by selected local congregators. The entourage from Singapore in full attendance was among them to witness the occasion. 

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Full entourage from Singapore among the congregators witnessed the event …

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… with live telecast of the event to the viewers in the tentage in progress.

Commendable speeches were eloquently delivered by the monks in commemoration of the event which was telecasted live on a gigantic led screen to the congregators under the tentage.

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Monks delivered commendable speeches in commemoration of the event.

Conducted tour of the Centre

The newly completed Bouddha Dharmapithamu serves as a beacon in the propagation of Buddhism and a resource centre for research and academic pursuit.

A conducted tour of the Centre was conducted on November 20th for the entourage of the completed building consists of four storeys and a roof garden.  The first storey or ground floor (colonial inheritance) is the kitchen, dining hall cum visitor lounge and administrative office.

 On the second storey is a small theatre with a wall mount television console, the library and a shrine hall. As the Centre is designated to be a centre of learning and research the collection of books will stage to grow with time to be as comprehensive as possible.

The Library

On the third storey are the guest rooms and dormitory for the samanaras, is a restricted area with a gate which is out of bounds to visitors

The fourth storey is the Dhamma Hall and gallery cum museum.

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Visitors to the gallery cum museum.

What a splendid gift!

The funds for the Centre were contributed by donors from Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia; and Singapore – the main benefactor.  It is indeed a noble deed of the incumbents to emulate the great deed of Anăthapindika who purchased Jetavana Grove from Prince Jeta with a handsome price of the number of gold coins that covered the park.  A monastery was built upon the land as a gift to Lord Buddha who spent twenty four raining seasons at the Jetavana Monastery. Although the benefactors’ infinitesimal deed paled in comparison to the gift of Anăthapindika, it is still a meritorious deed and even more magnanimous vis-a-vis in wealth.

Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu!

 Contributor: Chin Kee Thou

Date: December 4th 2017

 Readers are cordially invited to visit The Gallery to view more photos.  You may download any photo you desired for keepsake.

Contents, photos and video clip by contributor who takes responsibility for any advertence, factual or otherwise.

 

 

 

   

 

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A new milestone for Mangala Vihara Dhamma Fellowship: An audio + video recording of Dhamma talk “Monastic Life Past and Present” by Bhante Cakkapala

The first audio recorded Dhamma talk deputed on March 30th 2015   was delivered by Venerable Dr Sumanasiri, titled “War and Buddhism”. It was a new milestone for the Mangala Vihara Dhamma Fellowship (MVDF) then.

Going forward the date July 16th 2018 marked yet another milestone for the MVDF’s Dhamma talk series organised by Buddhism in Daily Life class made its depute with an audio plus video recording of a talk entitled “Monastic Life Past and Present” delivered by Bhante Cakkapala, our spiritual advisor.

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Video recording in session captured Bhante Cakkapala in action.

Video recording

The video recording was made possible with the collective efforts of the dedicated recording crew comprised of Burmese and local devotees and students.

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Sister Oranje Lwin behind the video camera.

Attendance

And as usual it attracted a reasonably good turnout with more than half a dozen of questions raised by the participants during the questions and answers session.

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A reasonable turnout with active participation with …

Questions from the floor

Sharing of audio and video recordings

It is the pleasure for the MVDF to share with those who missed the talk for one reason or another and also for attendees to watch or listen again.

For those who wish to listen to the talk may follow the link below.

While others may prefer to watch the video recording may follow the link below.

Transferring of merits

The session ended with the transference, sharing and dedication of merits.

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A noble way to end the session – transferring, sharing and dedication of merits.

The Photo Gallery is opened for your browsing leisure. You may download your favourite images with compliments of the MVDF.

Do remember keep a date and mark your calendar for the next Dhamma talk by Bhante U Cittara.

Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu!

Contributors: Chin Kee Thou for text, photographs and audio clip assisted by video recording crew comprised of Ms Oranje Lwin, Alex Lim, Chan Tuck Sing and Chin Kee Thou

Date: July 18th 2018

The contributors take responsibility for any inadvertence, factual or otherwise.   

 

 

 

 

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Announcement – Pindapata Day 2018

Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Dhamma,

“When they give out of faith with a heart of confidence, food accrues to (the giver) himself both in this world and the next.” (SN 1:43).

Hence, we are hosting our Sixth Pindapata Day and welcome you to participate and share the benefits and merits.

Pindapata 2018a

Poster credit: Chan Tuck Sing

“In giving food, one gives five things. What five? One gives life, beauty, happiness, strengthen and intelligence.  And in giving these things, one partakes in the qualities of life, beauty, happiness, strengthen and intelligence, both here and thereafter.” (A.III,42).

So do mark your calendar on August 9 and free the day to rejoice with us in alms giving to the sangha.

Pindapata 2018b

Poster credit: Chan Tuck Sing

General Siha asked the Lord: ”Is it possible to see the results of generosity?”  And the Lord said: “Yes it is possible to see the result of generosity.  The giver, the generous one, is liked and dear to many. … Good and wise people follow the generous person. … The generous person earns a good reputation. … This is the result of generosity. Once again, in whatever company he enters, be it nobles, brahims, householders or monks, the generous enters with confidence and without trouble.  And finally, the giver, the generous person, is reborn in heaven after death.  This a result of generosity that can be seen hereafter.” (A.III,39).    

Do not miss this noble opportunity for a noble deed.

Contributor: Chin Kee Thou

Date: July 10th 2018

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A Cambodian Trip – Visit to the Temples of Angkor and others

A group of nine made a debut trip to Cambodia from 22nd to 26th June visited the famed Angkor archaeological park and other ancillary places of interest.

The group comprised of Chin Kee Thou, Goh Swee Pheng, Hing Sing Huat, Jessica Lim, Raymond Yow, Regina Chua and Violet Chin with our guests Bhante Ti Lakkana and Bhante Cakkapala who graciously accepted the invitation.

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Standing (L to R) Regina Chua, Hing Sing Huat, Goh Swee Pheng, Raymond Yow, Jessica Lim, Violet Chin and Chin Kee Thou. Sitting ( L to R) Bhante Ti Lakkana and Bhante Cakkapala.

Entrance fees in US Dollars

Like any other archaeological sites or parks in many countries and as in Cambodia entrance fees are payable by tourists is in US dollars and also to places of interest, boat ride, hotel, dinning at restaurant and shopping malls; other than purchases at the old markets.

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Boat ride for USD20, a three-day pass to Angkor site for USD62 and a visit to the War Museum for USD5.

The Angkor Archaeological Park

The site of the temples of Angkor is one of the most important archaeological sites in South East Asia. Stretching over some 400 square kilometres, including forested area, Angkor Archaeological Park contains the magnificent remains of the different capitals of the Khmer Empire, from the 9th to the 15th century.  They include the famous Temple of Angkor Wat and, Angkor Thom, Ta Prohm, the Bayon Temple with its countless sculptural decorations. UNESCO has set up a wide ranging programme to safeguard this symbolic site and its surrounding. (Source: UNESCO).

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Tourist map of archaeological site of the Angkor temples.

Pictorial tour of the Temples of Angkor

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South Gate to Angkor Thom.

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The fame face-image of the ruined temples at the Angkor Thom complex.

You may go on a pictorial tour of the sites when you visit The Photo Gallery to view a vast collection of photos.

Sunrise at Angkor

A visit to the site is incomplete without the sunrise or sunset scene. We visited the site on the second day of the tour in the morning at 6 am to catch the sunrise at Angkor.

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Patiently waiting for the sun to rise . . .

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. . . and watch the sun rises at Angkor Archaeological Park.

Boat ride on the Great Lake Tonle Sap – Siem Reap

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Boat ride along the Great Tonle Sap Lake.

The Tonle Sap Lake is the largest fresh water lake in South East Asia with more than three million inhabitants living around the bank, and 90% of them earn a living by catching fish and making agricultures. The size of the lake depends on the monsoon and dry seasons. During raining season the lake is filled by water flowing from the Mekong with 14 meters in depth and expands the surface of 10,000 square kilo meters. In dry season its size 3,000 square kilo meters with two meters in depth and water flows out from the Lake to the Mekong, in and out flowing is the natural phenomenon occurrences. This lake also provides over 300 species of fresh water fishes, as well as snakes, crocodiles, tortoises, turtles and otters.

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The Great Tonle Sap Lake is the largest fresh water lake in South East Asia.

The Lake is also an important commercial resource, providing more than half of the fish consumed in Cambodia. In harmony with the specialized ecosystems, the human occupations at the edges of the lake is similarly distinctive – floating villages, towering stilted houses, huge fish traps, and an economy and way of life deeply intertwined with the lake, the fish, the wildlife and the cycles of rising and falling waters. (Tourism of Cambodia).

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Half of the fish consumed in Cambodia comes from huge fish traps …

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. . . and individual traps.

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The lake is dotted with floating villages on its bank and . . .

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. . . towering stilted houses.

 

Wat Thmey, otherwise known as Siem Reap’s Killing Fields

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Wat Thmey at Siem Reap is otherwise known as . . .

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. . .the “Killing Fields” of Siem Reap.

On the last day of our tour we went for temple visits. There are many temples and pagodas in Siem Reap nearby the hotel and visited a few of them. The one that struck me most confronting is the Wat Thmey, otherwise known as Siem Reap Killing Fields, is site of loss and hope.

You may read more of the war atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge during the Pol Pot regime in the book “Killings Fields” by Christopher Hudson, and later made into a biographical drama film of the same name.

The bodies of the deceased were often dumped together in fields, pagodas and schools. There are many ‘Killing Fields’ all over the country. One significant Killing Field in Siem Reap is at Wat Thmey.

This pagoda was used as a Khmer Rouge prison to house thousands of prisoners. (Note: prisoners were mostly innocents who were ‘tried’ on crimes they did not commit, and later were Khmer Rouge soldiers who were accused of treason). These prisoners were killed and buried inside two pits and six water wells located about 250 meters south of the prison. It is estimated that around 8,000 people were murdered at this pagoda during the Khmer Rouge regime.

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It is estimated that about 8,000 people were murdered in this pagoda.

In 1995, when Wat Thmey was renovated, a substantial amount of bones and skulls of the victims were enshrined in a memorial stupa. These are on display for visitors to remember the tragic history of Cambodia committed by the Khmer Rogue during the Pol Pot regime and we need to pay respect to those who pointlessly lost their lives.

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The memorial stupa (background) was erected in 1995 that enshrined skeletal remains of the victims of the “Killing Fields”.

Epilogue

Visiting archaeological sites remind me of the ancient civilisations and achievements of the distant past that only revive the obscured memories. However, as I stood on the ground of a genocide committed in the late 1970’s, has a profound impact as I viewed the skeletal remains of the many innocent victims with empathy.

Contributor: Chin Kee Thou

Date: July 3rd 2018

Contents by contributor who takes responsibility for any inadvertence, factual or otherwise.

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ANNOUNCEMENT: Dhamma Talk – “The Core Democratic Values Found in Buddhist Teachings” by Venerable Cittara

Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Dhamma

Do keep a date to attend Venerable Cittara’s talk on August 6th 2018.

_Core Values

Poster credit: Chan Tuck Sing

All are welcome

Submitted by: Chin Kee Thou

Date: July 1st 2018

 

 

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Mangala Vihara Dhamma Fellowship celebrates Vesak Day 2018

Vesak Day marks three significant dates in Buddhism: the birth date of the Prince Siddhattha, the day the Bodhisatta attained enlightenment and the day of the passing of the Buddha.

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Vesak Day greeting from Mangala Vihara (Buddhist Temple).

The gift of the Dhamma excels all other gifts

The Mangala Vihara Dhamma Fellowship (MVDF) marked Vesak Day on May 29th 2018, to share the three core values of learning the Dhamma to develop right understanding; practise compassion, gratitude and generosity; and to share knowledge selflessly and propagate the seeds of Buddhism. Thus the MVDF organised various activities and education classes to this end. The gifts of Dhamma excel all other gifts. (Dhammapada 354).

It was an opportune time that showcased the activities and programmes to the visitors who thronged the temple; and was indeed a fertile ground with a huge turnout to promote the events.

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The large crowd that thronged the temple provided …

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… a fertile ground for promotion of activities and events.

In the propagation of the seeds of Buddhism, the MVDF organises the following classes and activities to cater to the interests of a wide spectrum of the visitors, vide:

Non-examination Education Classes

Abhidhamma in Daily Life

Buddhism in Daily Life

Nikaya Sharing

Sutta Study Class

Activities to enhance the practice

Community Outreach

Dhamma Talks

Library and e-Library

Pindapata

Digital platform

Forging ahead into the digital world and the traditional way of putting up posters on billboards was anachronistic to publicise the activities. It was replaced with a multimedia platform where images of the various activities and programmes were flashed across on monitor screens.

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Monitor screens replaced the posters on billboards showcased the activities.

However, the human touch and interactions were still evident to approach visitors and answer enquiries from interested parties and potential participants.

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Human touch and interactions still evident to approach visitors …

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… and answer enquiries from interested party and potential participant.

Book stall

The members of MVDF also manned a book stall for distribution of free Dhamma books, booklets, fancy bookmarks, decals and Buddhist ancillary.

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Distribution of free books, booklets, decals …

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… and fancy bookmarks.

Noble deed

It was indeed a noble deed to propagate the Dhamma by sharing with the mass at large, following the footsteps of Lord Buddha: “I allow you, monks, to wander abroad for the good of the many, for the welfare and happiness of devas and humans. Do not go two together, monks, but teach the Dhamma that is lovely in its beginning, lovely in its middle, and lovely in its ending, both in the letter and in the spirit, and display the holy life fully complete and perfect. There are beings with little dust on their eyes who are perishing through not hearing the Dhamma, they will become knowers of Dhamma.(D.ii, 48).

Contributor: Chin Kee Thou

Date: June 3rd 2018

Readers are cordially invited to visit The Photo Gallery to view more photos and you are at liberty to download any images that you desire.

Contents by contributor who takes responsibility for any inadvertence, factual or otherwise.

 

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News flash! Dhamma talk: “Monastic Life Past and Present” by Bhante Cakkapala

You are cordially invited to attend a Dhamma talk “Monastic Life Past and Present” by Bhante Cakkapala.

Do mark your calendar and make a date on July 16th 2018 to listen to his talk.

Dhamma Talk 16 Jul 2018

Admission is free. All are welcome

Submitted by: Chin Kee Thou

Poster design by: Chan Tuck Sing

 

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An audio recording: “Happiness is Free” by Bhante Buddharakkhita

The Dhamma talk was organised by the Education Committee of Mangala Vihara Dhamma Fellowship under the Buddhism in Daily Life Dhamma Talk series.

Second visit

This Dhamma talk delivered on May 21st 2018 by Bhante Buddharakkhita was his second appearance at the Mangala Viara (Buddhist Temple) with his debut talk spoken on May 22nd 2017 .

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Bhante’s second talk at Mangala Vihara (Buddhist Temple) elucidated a point.

State of art audio and video system

The newly installed state of art audio and visual display system, with three pairs of ceiling mounted monitor speakers and two ceiling mounted LED (light emitting diodes) monitor screens evenly spread across the hall, was a delightful experience for the audience in the back rows who enjoyed good acoustic quality sound and soaked in the pleasant ambience of the hall. The monitor screens were not used as the whiteboard was the Bhante’s preference.

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Bhante uses a cordless headset microphone that works with the newly installed state of art audio system in the background . . .

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. . . with sound that resonated well through the three pairs of ceiling mounted monitor speakers evenly spread across the hall. Seen in the picture is a pair of monitor screens not in use.

Questions and answers session

The must have item in the programme was the questions and answers session that was well received with active participation from the floor.

Q and A

Question from the floor and … …

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… yet another question for Bhante.

Bhante’s interesting response interjected with humour.

Audio track

This audio track recorded from the audio system produces superior acoustic quality playback sound is for all to share, especially for those who missed the event and also for who wish to listen again.

The gifts of the Dhamma excel all other gifts. Dhammapada 354.

The talk ended well with transference and delegation of merits.

You are cordially invited to tour of The Photo Gallery to view or download any images of your desire.

Contributor: Chin Kee Thou

Date: May 22nd 2018.

The contributor takes responsibility of the contents for any inadvertence, factual or otherwise.

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