Saturday, May 14, 2011

Ipswich Buddhist Centre celebrates Festival of Enlightenment in town centre

Amoghavajra writes from Ipswich in the UK with news of their recent ‘Festival of Enlightenment’, celebrating 25 years of Buddhist activities in the town. He says -

“Last Sunday, 8th May, Triratna’s Ipswich Buddhist Centre celebrated Buddha Day right in the very centre of Ipswich. Acalavajri and Bodhivamsa inspired us to take our celebration of this important Buddhist Festival to the people of Ipswich and use this ancient Town Square – known locally as The Cornhill – that was established in 700CE. It is used frequently to host many different events and by holding our Festival of Enlightenment in the square we hoped to really bring ourselves to the attention of the townspeople. This year marks 25 years of activities in the town and what better time to take the courageous step of practicing in the square.

“Our dream was to erect a ‘bodhi tree’ which would be similar to the old British ‘clootie tree’ – a wishing tree. Jnanamitra designed our tree and canopy which went up easily on the day. As you can expect we were all apprehensive not just about such a public event but also whether the fickle British weather would bless us or rain on us! In the end we had glorious weather.
Our Evolution shop is located a hundred yards from this site and we created a pathway to the shop. During the day we had people meditating in the shop window.

“The day itself went supremely well. The sun shone and we had a great interest from the passing public in our festival. We had a dedication ceremony, meditation, chanting, walking meditation, talks and concluded with a 7-fold puja. A blast of a day and a huge success in bringing our Sangha together, along with friends from Colchester, Bury St Edmunds and Padmaloka. I think we made a very positive impression on the life of the town and received a lot of interest from those passing by. I think this big day will be remembered well by Sangha and townsfolk alike”.

Amoghavajra (Chairman, Triratna Buddhist Community Ipswich)

Bodhivamsa, one of the organisers, adds - "We also wanted a compassionate aspect to the event, so we provided lunch for the general public, and many took up this offer. Fifty meals were prepared at a local restaurant by our sangha team of cooks, led by Carol Bloyce. We also accepted donations of food from local ethnic Buddhists.

"The Evolution shop in Ipswich had people meditating in the shop window and a path of enlightening footsteps was drawn on the ground leading to the event on the town square. This pathway was especially of interest to youngsters who could be seen following it accompanied by their reluctant parents.

"Being proud and confident in our Buddhist faith was the main driver and vision for such a testing event. The event gave many people in our Sangha the opportunity to overcome fears about themselves and join collectively and openly in celebrating a world changing event. The event also managed to raise a lot of press interest, with interviews on local radio, and several articles in local papers including a centre spread entitled: ‘Lighting up lives at an inspiring festival’".

There's lots more photos of the day on-line here.

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