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  1. #1
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    Thai Temple in Christchurch, New Zealand

    On the weekend of March 25, 2006 the local Thai community here in Christchurch, New Zealand celebrated the consecration (Baddhasima) of their new Meditation Hall (Ubosot).

    Wat Buddha Samakhee has been on a site on the outskirts of the city, in a market-garden area, since 2000, with five resident Thai monks. Until now, a house that already existed on the property was used for ceremonies, but with the completion and consecration of a purpose-built Ubosot it is now able to be fully functional. I believe it is the only fully functional Therevada temple in New Zealand.

    Over the weekend the local monks, and over 20 monks visiting from Thailand performed the required ceremonies, including the blessing of the 9 Sima balls (eight around the hall and one inside). The event was attended by the Thai Ambassador and local members of parliament as well as local Chinese and Sri Lankan monks.

    Over 20 local lay people chose to become monks, novices, or nuns for a week. It was interesting to try to recognize my friends after the shaving of hair and eyebrows.

    This was a special event. It is not often that you get the chance to participate in this ceremony. Most of the visiting monks have now returned to Thailand, but they leave us enriched.

    The temple is at 359 Marshland Road. There is some (outdated) information on this web page: http://www.angelfire.com/ks2/Buddhas...e/BskHome.html

    The photos show: Digging holes for the Sima stones on the previous weekend; The local member of Parliament with the Thai Ambassador and his wife; Some of the local and visiting monks; Traditional entertainment; Blessing the stones.
    Last edited by mikenz66; 06-04-06 at 06:22 PM.
    ไมค์

  2. #2
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    More photographs: The Thai ambassador cutting the "rope" holding the stone in the hall on Saturday. This was restored and re-cut the next day (other two pictures), when the ceremonies were completed.
    ไมค์

  3. #3
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    thank you for the interesting news and pix.
    I have a few questions:
    how large is the Thai community in this area? or is it more for non-Thais who are interested in Buddhism and Thai culture? these friends you were trying to recognise, are they Thais?
    and the other thing, I had never heard of Sima balls or stones, I could of course look it up using google, but maybe others are interested as well.
    thank you :-)

  4. #4
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    Thanks Betti. You ask a lot of questions!

    Christchurch is the largest city in our South Island, around 400,000 people (NZ population is about 4 million). I'm not sure of the statistics, but the number "200 Thai families in the area" is what is often quoted.

    I've been going to the Temple most Sundays this year. There are 5 resident monks and apart from the recent few weeks, which have been very busy, there are usually two or three dozen people there, mostly Thai, and mostly women (quite a few are married to New Zealand men, quite a few are grandmothers). As you might be able to tell from one of the photographs there are a group of Thai (or half-Thai) teenagers who do traditional music and dance.

    A very small number of non-Thai do come because they are Buddhist, rather than having Thai connections, but it is the Thai community, and the Thai women in particular, who are the driving force.

    I'm no expert on the Sima markers, but, paraphrasing the material that I have, they indicate the "consecrated" (to use the western term) area. There are 8 around the outside of the hall, forming a rectangle (4 on corners, 4 at middle of edges), and one inside. The spherical stone balls are buried and I think a marker will be placed on the surface.

    As I understand it the monks have to first remove any old Sima boundaries that might have been placed there ealier (not very likely in Christchurch!) and then establish the area with the appropriate Pali chant, which goes, in part:
    "With the marks all around designated, the Sangha is determining a boundary for a common communion and a single observance in accordance with these marks..."
    It takes at least 20 monks to do this (hence the "imports" from Thailand). After becoming used to our Sunday morning sessions, with 5 monks and a couple of dozen lay people, the power of the chanting of this large group was very moving. The ceremony is necessary to establish an area where certain cermonies, such as ordination of monks, can be done, so it will have been done in every Temple in Thailand.

    Perhaps someone more knowledgable can correct me if I'm oversimiplifying too much.

    As far as recognising my friends goes: Over 20 people became monks, novices, or nuns for a week. The novices and nuns were all Thai (or half-Thai) children or women. Perhaps five of the monks were NZ men (mostly married to Thai women).
    ไมค์

  5. #5
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    thank you Mike. I got interested because we don't have Buddhist communities back home in my city, or rather, there are quite a few communities made up of Hungarians only, they have even set up a small Buddhist College where people can earn a degree in Buddhist philosophy and Japanese / Chinese language. for me, it's just.... weird, I never knew how to relate to this. but a community you described is a different matter altogether, it sounds real.

  6. #6
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    Since there seems to be some interest in the Sima balls, and the community, I thought I should upload a few more pictures.

    The first three show the balls, which have been coverd with gold leaf. You make a donation, get a package with 10 pieces of gold leaf, which you stick on the 9 balls --- one spare in case you mess up. The second picture shows one of our monks making the balls sticky with, I believe, wood stain. With the gold leaf you also get some paper to write your name on and this is attached, as you can see, to the central ball. The final picture shows some of the temporary monks (seated) after ordination.
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    Re: Thai Temple in Christchurch, New Zealand

    [QUOTE=mikenz66;59463]On the weekend of March 25, 2006 the local Thai community here in Christchurch, New Zealand celebrated the consecration (Baddhasima) of their new Meditation Hall (Ubosot).

    Wat Buddha Samakhee has been on a site on the outskirts of the city, in a market-garden area, since 2000, with five resident Thai monks. Until now, a house that already existed on the property was used for ceremonies, but with the completion and consecration of a purpose-built Ubosot it is now able to be fully functional. I believe it is the only fully functional Therevada temple in New Zealand.

    /QUOTE]

    What about Bodhinyanarama monastery in Stokes Valley/Hutt Valley, Watyarnprateep in Auckland and Wainuiomata/Hutt Valley?

    Metta

    Luohan

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    Re: Thai Temple in Christchurch, New Zealand

    What has happened to Mikenz66, the OP? We have not heard from him for ages! Anybody knows?

  9. #9
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    Re: Thai Temple in Christchurch, New Zealand

    Hehe, Thai temple in CHRIST(_)church ... smirking big time! Maybe it's an interesting bit of information that recently established Bodhi Vihara is next door to the Catholic monastery where the current Pope Benedikt XVI ordained. Anyways, in case somebody has Thai friends living around Munich (GER), the Western monks there are fluent in Thai.

  10. #10
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    Re: Thai Temple in Christchurch, New Zealand

    We just came back from Wat Buddha Samakhee. It was quite a long drive up the south island (7 hours) but well worth it. I was very impressed at the temple and was quite surprised to find one like it in NZ outside of Auckland. My wifes religion is very important to her and she is happy to know now that the temple is there should she feel the need to go. I was warmly welcomed by everyone there, particularly as I was one of the few "Farang" to actually participate in the ceremony. Next time though I think we will fly up!

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