Ancient Buddhist ceremony celebrates 10th anniversary in South Tyneside
One of the biggest celebrations in the Buddhist calendar is marking its 10th anniversary in South Tyneside.
Buddhists from the borough and beyond will gather at Dhammakaya Meditation Centre in Hebburn on Sunday, November 10, for a special ceremony in honour of the occasion.
Hundreds of followers have taken part in Kathina Day in Hebburn over the past decade, in what has become the biggest Buddhist ceremony in the North East.
Kathina is a 2,500-year-old celebration dating back to 500BC.
The annual tradition marks the largest alms-giving ceremony in the Buddhist calendar and sees devotees offer robes to the Sangha, or monks who have completed the Rains-Retreat practice.
Rains-Retreat, considered similar to Lent in Christianity, is the act of remaining in one place for three months and can include intense meditation.
For the 10th anniversary of Kathina in South Tyneside the centre will open its doors to other Buddhist groups and has invited monks from Newcastle to speak at their celebratory ceremony.
Around 400 worshippers are expected to attend from across the UK with some even travelling from as far away as Thailand and America.
The day will include meditation and chanting, speeches by the VIP guests and the Buddhist alms-giving, followed by the traditional Kathina ceremony in the afternoon.
“Kathina is the biggest Buddhism celebration, but this year is extra special because it is our 10th anniversary,” said Naddao Chairat, staff member at the Dhammakaya Meditation Centre.
“We will have a special event to celebrate and have invited other Buddhist groups as our special guests.
“We want to open our home to everyone, especially those which we have the same things in common with.”
As part of the celebration a new stain glass window will be unveiled in the centre, the third one of the Buddha story series which is currently being installed.
The stained glass, which tells the story of Buddhism, is thought to be the only one of its kind in the world.
“We are quite unique, other temples have the story on the walls but nowhere else has it on stained glass,” Naddao added.
“It’s not open to the public yet so this will be the official unveiling.”