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



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“IQ & EQ in Buddhism” by Bhante Cakkapala – A video recording

The propagation of the Dhamma is indeed a noble deed following the footsteps of Lord Buddha, who 2500 years ago instructed His disciples to spread out to preach the Dhamma: “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 the beginning, lovely in its middle, and lovely in its ending, both in letter and in the spirit, and display the holy life fully complete and perfect.” (DN II, 48).

Bhante Cakkapala, a resident monk at Mangala Vihara (Buddhist Temple) is an eloquent speaker, has been a frequent guest of various Buddhist institutions to deliver Dhamma Talk.

We bring forth and share his Dhamma talk delivered at Buddhist Fellowship on June 16th 2019.

(Video recording from YouTube with courtesy of Buddhist Fellowship)

The gift of Dhamma excels all other gifts. May this gift be of benefit to you.

Sadhu!

Submitted by Chin Kee Thou
Date June 17th 2019

 

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Announcement: “Buddhist Guidelines to Manage Negative Emotions” by Bhante Pemaratana

Negative emotions are mental defilements that will hamper our practice.

Let us learn from Bhante Pemaratana how to manage them.

Do avail yourself to listen to his Dhamma talk on July 8th 2019.

Poster credit: Chan Tuck Sing

Admission is free

All are welcome

Submitted by Chin Kee Thou
Date: June 1st 2019

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News Alert: “Will Buddhism disappear from the world?”

Let us hear from Venerable K. Rathanasara the “prediction” on June 24th 2019 during his Dhamma Talk.

Do mark your calendar and keep a date to know the fate.

Poster credit: Chan Tuck Sing

Admission is free.

All are welcome

Submitted by Chin Kee Thou
Date: May 15th 2019

 

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Announcement – Dhamma Talk, “Mirage” by Sister Sylvia Bay

Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Dhamma,

Sister Sylvia Bay will deliver a Dhamma talk “Mirage” on June 10th 2019

Do mark your calendar and keep the date to listen to her.

Poster credit: Chan Tuck Sing

Admission is free.

All are welcome

Submitted by: Chin Kee Thou
Date: May 1st 2019

 

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A Video Recording – “Nama Rupa: The middle between Materialism and Idealism” by Venerable Pandit

Venerable Pandit delivered a Dhamma talk “Nama and Rupa: The middle between Materialism and Idealism” on April 8th 2019.

It is our pleasure to bring forth the video recording to share with those we missed the event and also for the global audience at large, in the propagation of the Dhamma.

We accord a token of appreciation and gratitude to the organisers and the members of the video recording team for making it possible.

Submitted by: Chin Kee Thou
Date: April 21st 2019

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Pindapata at Taman Bodhi Asri, Medan

At the invitation of Siddhi & Metta Karunia Charity Group of Medan for a Dhamma Talk, Chao Khun Keng Khemako accompanied by Bhikkhu Lee, graciously consented and delivered a talk, entitled “Cheng Beng Kui” on April 7th 2019 at the Karibia Boutique Hotel. The event was well received and attended by more than 800 devotees and participants that filled up the auditorium.

Chao Khun Keng Khemano delivers his “Cheng Beng Kui” talk.

The jubilant and diligent volunteers done a good job in managing the crowd and the event sailed on smoothly despite the large turnout.

Deserving jubilant volunteers posed for group snapshot after the event.

Taman Bodhi Asri (TABA)

While we were at Medan, the group comprised of Brothers Alan Tan, Chin Kee Thou, Hing Sing Huat and Raymond Yow, as kappiyas, and Sisters Christine Chiam, Clara Tan and Suriaty “Sue” Simon who accompanied the monks, made an incidental detour and visited Taman Bodhi Asri (TABA), an old folks’ home. We were accompanied by local devotees, well-wishers and Sister Sue’s friends.

Upon arrival at Medan on April 4th 2019 we lodged at the dormitories for guests at TABA. For many of us it was the first visit and some the second or third visit to the centre. As for me it was a third visit, of which the first was on the occasion for the consecration of the main Shrine Hall in 2012. The last visit in 2017 where we performed dana and brought goodies and joy to the inmates.

Pindapata

For this visit, Sister Suriaty “Sue” Simon suggested the inmates to do dana on April 5th 2019, and organised a pindapata for them and experienced the joy of giving and to share and accumulate merits. With joint contributions from the local donors and well-wishers and the visiting team, the items for the alms giving were basically household essentials and necessities meant for the home. They were distributed to the participants for the purpose of alms giving and were taught how to do it.

With joint contributions from the local devotees and well-wishers …

… and the visiting team, the items were mainly meant for the home.

The participants, both the wheelchair bound and the others mustered at the dining hall in the morning and each was given two items while Sister Suriaty “Sue” Simon showed them the way to do it, to put one item into each of the monk’s alms bowl as they walked by to receive it.

Basic instructions from Sister Suriaty “Sue” Simon to the participants, the way to offer alms.

However, many of them were either too shy or too feeble would prefer to stay in the dormitories and; of course those who are physically challenged and bedridden. We visited them all the same at the various wings of the building and offered them an opportunity to participate in the noble deeds of alms giving.

Many of them on wheelchair waited along the corridors and others indoor came out to make offer when the monks approached them. “This very practice of receiving alms from one door to the next had always been our means of livelihood,” extolled Lord Buddha. (Mahabuddhavamsa ).

Many of them on wheelchair waited along the corridors … …

… and others indoor came out to make offer when the monks approached

And for the physically challenged and bedridden we visited them in the dorm room to receive the alms, a fortuity for them to participate in the noble deeds to gain merits.

And for the physically challenged …

… and the bedridden we visited them in the dorm room to receive the alms for them to gain merits.

Tears of blissful joy

For some of the participants, it was the first time in their life doing dana, and this fortuity in giving alms was an exhilarating experience that they shed tears of blissful joy, explained Chao Khun Keng Khemako.

We were glad that we shared the opportunity and brought forth the joy that they experienced for the first time in their life, which would otherwise be impossible.

For some of the participants, it was the first time in their life doing dana, and this fortuity in alms giving, was an exhilarating experience … …

… … that they shed tears of blissful joy, explained Chao Khun Keng Khemako.

The benefits of dana

I was glad when I witnessed a bedridden participant, beamed with serenity while blissfully gazed at the alms gather when he held his hand. It was a heartfelt experience that reminds me the fruits of dana, in giving and receiving.

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 is a result of generosity that can be seen hereafter.” (A.III,39).

Beaming with serenity and gazing blissfully at the alms gather when he holds his hand, reminds me of the fruits of dana, in giving and receiving.

It was indeed a fruitful trip, and when planning for future trip to Medan, a visit to TABA again with grandeur is a worthwhile thought.

Just in jest

Is it a phenomena or just an optical illusion?

Contributor: Chin Kee Thou
Date: April 20th 2019

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

You may visit The Photo Gallery to view more photos and download any image for keepsake or personal use and not for commercial or monetary gain.

 

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Buddhism in Daily Life – Revised Timetable

Buddhism in Daily Life is a free and non-examination course conducted by The Mangala Vihara Dhamma Fellowship at Mangala Vihara (Buddhist Temple) on Monday from 7:30 to 9:30 pm.

Poster credit: Chan Tuck Sing

All are welcome

Submitted by Chin Kee Thou
Date: April 18th 2019

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