A Visit To The London Buddhist Vihara 90th Year Celebration

Special exhibition covering its history shows Royal Family were frequent guests

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The London Buddhist Vihara in Chiswick has been holding an exhibition to mark the 90th year since Anagarika Dharmapala founded the Vihara in 1926.

The exhibition, which has just ended, shows how senior members of the Royal Family were frequent visitors to the Vihara and supported its charity work..

The Vihara has been located in Bedford Park since 1994.

the vihara in chiswick

The current Vihara in Bedford Park

Established in London in 1926, the Vihara was the first Sri Lankan Buddhist monastery to be established outside Asia and is managed by the Anagarika Dharmapala Trust in Colombo. The current chief bhikkhu of the Vihara is Ven Bogoda Seelawimala Nayaka Thera, who is also the Chief Sangha Nayaka of Great Britain.

The first Vihara was at Foster House, Ealing and was named after a wealthy American benefactor Mary Foster, who donated $50,000 to after meeting Anagarika Dharmapala on a ship bound for America.

The Vihara when it was in Ealing

Shortly afterwards, the Vihara moved to Gloucester Road in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, where it continued until the Second World War. During the war, the temple premises were requisitioned, and the monks returned to Ceylon and in 1955 it reopened in Knightsbridge.

prince charles visits the buddhist vihara in 2004

Prince Charles visited in 2004 after the tsunami, when the Vihara became a focal point for donations to those affected by the disaster.

The exhibition contained many photographs outlining a timeline of its history and its famous visitors, along with details of charity and community work

Princess Anne was also a visitor.

The Vihara has a Sunday School, and can carry out marriage and funeral ceremonies. There are over 2,500 devotees who travel to the vihara from all over London. Fundraising activities are an important part of the life of the community and they also organise weekly classes in meditation which are popular with local residents.

September 17, 2016

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