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A multi-faith city

Every evening in this Sri Lankan temple, the pirith chanting for Buddhist worship brings devotees into a peaceful pure land.

The Sri Saddhatissa International Buddhist Centre is among dozens of Buddhist temples in London. These temples are of different branches of Buddhism, such as Burman; Thai; Chinese; and Japanese; and offer religious services to people from different backgrounds.

In this 22-year-old Sri Lankan temple, people share a unified religious get together every evening, chatting with each other in a friendly manner, Puja chanting, practising meditation or studying Buddhist philosophy.  

For Ven Sumana, a monk in the Sri Saddhatissa International Buddhist Centre, there is not much difference between practising Buddhism in his home country or in London. He said being a Buddhist is more about one’s inner self rather than external circumstance. And the principle and the philosophy is the same, no matter where you are.

But for the temple, things are a little different. “The temple struggles to meet different needs of different people,” He said. The temple mostly offers services to migrants and they also have a meditation class every week.

On the weekends, there are classes for children in Buddhist study. Migrant parents want their children to learn more about the culture from their homeland. At the most, there are more than 200 children attending the class.

A city of many faiths

Every year, there is an interfaith meeting in the Sri Saddhatissa International Buddhist Centre, where leaders from different religions get together and have dialogues. This is a microcosm of London’s multi-faith coexistence.

London, being one of the most multi-cultured cities in the world, also embraces various religious beliefs of different groups of people. Christians, Muslims, Buddhists and other religions all have their space in this big and inclusive city.

Travelling across London, you may be attracted to the architecture of numerous, magnificent churches and the dominant culture of Christianity. But please do not forget the unseen but equally lively minority religious communities. They are inseparable parts of this religiously diverse city.

Words & images by Asta Guo

Visit Sri Saddhatissa International Buddhist Centre
309-311 Kingsbury Road, London NW9 9PE (020 8204 3301)
http://www.worldbuddhistfoundation.org/

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